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By Tim Hunt

Newspapers say no to Pete

Uploaded: May 8, 2012

With the June election less than a month away and absentee ballots in the mail, campaigns are cranking up.
For 20-term (yes, that's right, 40 years) Congressman Pete Stark, the news wasn't good. Both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Bay Area News Group (whose local newspapers cover his turf) recommended voters elect his opponent, Dublin City Councilman and Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Eric Swalwell.
The Democrat Party long ago committed to standing fast for its ineffective octogenarian—it will be interesting to see what voters do next month.

THE SAME GOES when it comes to the only two propositions on the ballot.
One deals with yet another substantial increase of the tobacco tax—one of the so-called sin taxes that various groups love to target for tax increases through initiatives. Given that smokers make up only about 20 percent of the population, it's likely to pass because nobody else has skin in the game.
It's reminiscent of one of the earlier hikes in the tobacco tax that funneled money to programs for children from in the womb to five. Just what nexus there was between tobacco use and that age group remains a mystery to this day, but voters bought it.
Whether voters will buy Proposition 28 on term limits for legislators is another interesting question. There's significant money from tobacco companies against Prop. 29, there's little money in the Prop. 28 campaign.
It would reduce the number of years a legislator could serve in the state houses from 14 to 12 years, but allow all of that time to be spent in one house.
Given the circus that term limits have created in California—the further rise of the 3rd House—the lobbyists—and the lack of knowledge for most legislators—there's some merit to the proposal.
Term limits, in terms of quality efforts to deal with major issues in Sacramento, have been a disaster. Yes, it was great to see Willie Brown go back to Sacramento, but I defy anyone to say it is better in Sacramento today. In the days of Willie Brown and Republican Bill Baker, they could cut a budget deal and deliver it with benefits for both parties.
Nothing similar happens today. Come June, Gov. Brown and the Democrats will pass a budget with a majority vote that will rely on the governor and his union buddies being able to sell tax increases to Californians on the November ballot. If it fails, significant mid-year cuts will be required by school districts across the state.
Would it have made more sense on the June ballot—you bet—but turnout will be way down and the Democrats need the President Obama supporters to show up to have a chance of passing it. Current polling doesn't look good.