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Fighting for attention

Another problem is that Proposition 30 is vying for attention with other ballot measures. Labor unions have been forced to divert funding from Proposition 30 to fight Proposition 32, a “paycheck protection” measure that would ban automatic payroll deductions for union fees.

The “Yes on 30” campaign also spent valuable time and money early to beat back Proposition 38, a competing tax-hike measure sponsored by lawyer Molly Munger, daughter of billionaire Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Vice President Charles Munger.

Led by the California Teachers Association, unions have been the biggest donors to the Proposition 30 campaign, which had raised $51.8 million as of Oct. 14. The opposing campaign had raised $30.8 million, mainly from Charles Munger Jr., a Stanford University scientist and son of the billionaire, who has sunk $21.9 million into defeating Propositions 30 and 32.

The biggest hurdle facing Proposition 30 may be electoral apathy. Given the state’s Democratic Party dominance, the presidential and Senate contests are all but decided, meaning that there is no high-profile race to draw voters to the polls.

“There’s not much going on in California. You wonder how many people are actually going to turn out, and Proposition 30 needs high turnout to win,” said Sacramento political analyst Tony Quinn. “People are in a negative mood in California — times are not great. There’s a lot of feeling that, ‘I’m just going to vote no.’ “