Butler wins, Salas too close to call
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
We’ve been watching the hundreds of thousands of dollars that corporate interests have been pouring into two legislative races, and while we would have hoped for a more sharply drawn repudiation by voters, this is still pretty satisfying. Betsy Butler managed to prevail against a river of cash in the 53rd Assembly District Democratic primary (which drew eight candidates), and Mary Salas is holding a narrow 300-vote lead in the 50th Senate District Democratic primary.
I should note that the interest here is less about Butler and Salas’s policy positions, and more about rejecting efforts by corporate groups to stack the legislature with people they think will do their bidding — and try to keep out those who they fear will work against them. Never mind what the Supreme Court says in this area, elections should be about the character of candidates and their views on public policy, not about big money trying to stack a deck.
And who is the big money? The groups behind the cash include some of the staunchest opponents of citizens rights to access the courts, and backers of tort reform measures and efforts to limit corporate liability for when corporations do bad things.
They include Californians for Balance and Fairness in the Civil Justice System; Put California Back to Work (sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California), the Californians for Civil Justice Reform PAC, Californians Allied for Patient Protection Independent Expenditure Account (dedicated to limiting damages awarded to those injured by medical negligence), and the Cooperative of American Physicians Independent Expenditure Committee.
Butler, as you regular readers know, is the former development director for the Consumer Attorneys of California, some of whose members sit on the board of Protect Consumer Justice, but we’ve never met.