This morning, someone forwarded me a story from a California political consultant with tips for passing a tax increase in a difficult economy.
Tip 1: “Take the time to plan carefully: A measure that is put on the ballot hastily will likely fail.” Hmmm.
Another tip: “Minimize opposition: It is rare that a tax measure will pass if there is serious, organized and well-funded opposition.” Hmmm, again.
I had already been thinking about asking the proponents of the city of San Diego’s financial reform and sales tax ballot measure, known as Proposition D, what they had been doing. Aside from a press conference outside a fire station the day after the measure was put on the ballot, nothing has happened in public. Meantime, opponents, led by City Councilman Carl DeMaio, are all over television and have started their website. (I’m not the only one ruminating on this dynamic.)
I called Tom Shepard, one of the Yes on D campaign consultants. He agreed that tax measures with organized opposition have uphill battles. (Though it’s unclear how well-funded opponents are at the moment.) He also agreed there’s a lot proponents have to do between now and November, like meeting reform targets and narrowing the chasm between the measure’s savings estimates. Organized labor already has made it clear it’s not just going to roll over on some of the city’s reform goals. But, Shepard said, there’s still time.
“We don’t even have a campaign committee formed yet,” Shepard said. “We don’t have any money yet. What are we supposed to do? I don’t think anyone is paying attention right now other than Carl DeMaio and his friends. We’re putting together a first-class campaign team and building a broad coalition.”