Despite Massive Opposition
Campaign, Proposition 227 Sweeps
to Landslide Victory
CONTACT: SHERI ANNIS
Friday, June 5, 1998.
Overcoming huge opposition, Proposition 227, the "English for the Children"
initiative, won a landslide 61% victory at the polls. The measure dismantling
California's 30-year-old system of bilingual education for limited English
children had consistently demonstrated widespread public appeal during its
yearlong campaign, and was able to sustain that support against powerful
political opposition by election day..
"We overcame enormous odds to win this victory," declared Ron
Unz, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who chaired the 227 campaign. "Our
initiative was opposed by the President of the United States. It was opposed
by the Chairman of the state Republican Party and the Chairman of
the state Democratic Party. It was opposed by all four candidates for Governor,
Democrat and Republican alike. It was opposed by nearly all the state's
major newspapers and virtually every educational organization, large union,
and establishment group. Our only strong support came from the people of
California, but that was enough for victory."
In the final weeks of the campaign, Republican billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio,
owner of the Univision Spanish-language television network, provided millions
of dollars in cash and free air-time to the No on 227 campaign, which overall
outspent the Yes campaign by a ratio of 20 to 1 in advertising. Despite
this financial mismatch Proposition 227 passed by one of the widest margins
in recent history, winning a larger percentage of the vote than any contested
initiative since Proposition 13 in 1978.
Election results show that the measure carried 56 of California's 58 counties.
Campaign finance reports indicate that the Yes campaign spent about $550,000
(excluding signature-gathering costs), of which some $200,000 was spent
on advertising, while the No campaign raised and spent $4.5 million, including
nearly $4 million on advertising and voter contact. In addition, Mr. Perenchio's
television network provided an estimated $1 to 2 million in free air time
for anti-227 editorials.