GAMING PROPOSITIONS FAIL IN CALIFORNIA
In California, a pair of propositions effecting Indian gaming in California
were defeated by a large margin.
Proposition 68, which sought to force Indian tribal casinos to give up a
quarter of their revenues to the state within 30 days of passage or else
face competition from select card clubs and race tracks went down with only
21 percent supporting and 79 percent voting against.
Another initiative aimed at California tribal gaming, Proposition, 70 also
faced a similar fate with 27 percent supporting and 73 percent opposed.
This initiative was largely the brainchild of the Agua Caliente Band of
Cahuilla Indians and sought to set payments to the state at the corporate
tax rate of 8.84 percent. In exchange tribes would have received 99-year
compacts that would have allowed them to expand as far as the market would
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigned heavily against the two initiatives
and many in the media speculate that his active opposition helped defeat
Early polls had shown leads for both Propositions 68 and 70 that seemed to
evaporate over the summer. Schwarzenegger initially stood silent on his
position on Proposition 68, but after he had signed his first round of
compacts with several tribes in June, part of the deal was for the governor
to come out against Proposition 68 at which point support began to erode.
Bespeaking the large vote against Proposition 68 several other factors also
contributed to its demise. Among them was infighting among the backers of
the proposition who eventually abandoned active campaigning for the
initiative. In addition, a well-funded campaign from many tribal sources
that opposed the measure that warned of expansion of slot machine gaming in
urban areas also put a nail in the coffin of Proposition 68.
Some also claimed the initiative was an example of an outrageous power grab
among select card clubs and race tracks that would have received 30,000
slot machines among the handful of businesses that were specifically named
in the initiative.
When backers pulled out last month, pro-68 forces told Indian Country Today
that they would fight to get another initiative on the ballot. However,
given the large margin in which the initiative was defeated and the
dissention within the backers' ranks, it is unclear whether this would even
be a viable option.
Proposition 70 on the other hand, was opposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger all
along. Though many tribes sat on the sidelines during the campaign for
various reasons it was endorsed by the California Nations Indian Gaming
Association who did some late campaigning for the measure.
The governor in fact did an effective job of linking the two initiatives
together. The governor warned that Proposition 70 would lead California to
become "one big casino."
Ironically, it was Schwarzenegger that actually allowed for the first
expansions of casinos beyond their original 2,000-machine cap. However,
Schwarzenegger's compacts did include steep payment increases while
Proposition 70 would not have imposed such penalties for machine expansion.
Also notable during the campaign Schwarzenegger raised some eyebrows with a
comment delivered at an anti-68 and 70 campaigning stop in which he said
"the Indians are ripping us off." The remark touched off a flurry of
criticism that culminated in demands for apologies from the California
chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
and the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.
ANDREAS LOSES ASSEMBLY BID
Mary Ann Andreas lost her bid to be the first American Indian woman to
serve in the state Assembly. With all precincts reporting for the 80th
Assembly district Andreas' bid came up almost 14,000 votes short. The
percentages were equally sharp with Andreas' opponent Bonnie Garcia,
R-Cathedral City, getting a little over 58 percent of the vote compared to
Andreas' 42 percent.
Early polls had shown the race to be very close in a district in which
Democrats outnumber Republicans by 45 to 38 percent, though many of those
Democrats lean to the right politically.
Their rightward lean probably helped Garcia who is one of the most
conservative members of the state Assembly. Despite Garcia's hard right
politics - her office sports bumper stickers denouncing France and a George
W. Bush doll - Garcia appeared to have captured enough Democratic votes.
However, Garcia has also reached across the aisle on a few issues, most
notably a bill to ban the use of the term "redskin" for California public
school mascots, which underscored her attempts to reach out to her
district's American Indian population.
Early on many thought that Andreas had a good chance to win the district.
Garcia was seen as vulnerable and sources inside the capital said that the
Republican leadership had almost written off Garcia.
Andreas had scored early and even picked up an endorsement from former
Vermont governor Howard Dean last May as one of the first of "Dean's
Dozen." This is a group of politicians that the former presidential
candidate issued over the course of the election season, which he felt had
similar values to him.
Despite her moderate politics - Andreas had previously told Indian Country
Today that she was "definitely not a liberal," her message failed to
resonate among the district's Democrats.
The campaign for the 80th Assembly District also produced some odd
ideological bedfellows. Garcia received support from Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, of whom she was an early supporter, who stands to the left
of Garcia on social issues and Andreas received the support of
Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, who, unlike Andreas, proudly
wears the Liberal label.
Calls to the Andreas and Garcia campaigns were not returned.
It was only in the last month that Andreas had managed to match Garcia in
funding and contrary to the rumors about Republicans initially not having
high hopes for a Garcia re-election, a few prominent Republicans, such as
Sen. Jim Battin and Gov. Schwarzenegger had never given up on her.
Also, the AFL-CIO had withdrawn much of their support for Andreas in the
last month of her campaign, which could have potentially helped in the
largely bluecollar Democratic district.
The race was also notable in that it marked the first time that two women
of color were the major party candidates for a seat in the state Assembly.
CLOSE RACE FOR ALASKA SENATE SEAT
The race for the U.S. Senate in Alaska was a close one and at last count,
challenger and former governor Tony Knowles trailed incumbent Lisa
Murkowski 120,087 to 110,209, or just under 10,000 votes with 98 percent of
While Alaska is normally seen as a safe Republican state, the race was made
close by charges of nepotism against Murkowski who was appointed to finish
out the term of her father, Frank Murkowski when the elder Murkowski
succeeded Knowles as governor two years ago.
Knowles, a former oil worker, is also a popular figure in Alaska, which
helped to tighten the race. He has repeatedly credited the Alaska Native
community with his close margin of victory when he successfully ran for
governor in the 1990s.
In a July interview with ICT, Knowles said that he hoped that the state's
independents, who make up a majority of Alaska's voters, would pull behind
Alaska Republicans such as Sen. Ted Stevens tried to blunt some criticism
from Alaska Natives by backing off a proposal to place funds for tribal
village law enforcement under an umbrella funding, which had fueled Alaska
Knowles had been hoping that the Alaska Native population would have
propelled him to the Senate and helped to restore a Democratic majority,
something that elections nationally did not yield.