No on Proposition 82

In 2005 the partners of Redwood Pacific Public Affairs were retained by taxpayer and business groups to defeat Hollywood actor/director Rob Reiner’s latest pet project—a tax and spend proposal to increase taxes on high earners to finance a massive new preschool bureaucracy.

The measure’s supporters had an early advantage, having already built broad support from a wide range of groups, including early and strong support from some of the “no” sides natural allies—the Los Angeles and San Francisco Chambers of Commerce. Not only had they assembled a strong coalition, but they had been running millions of dollars worth of advertisements touting the benefits of universal preschool.

The partners of RPPA quickly mobilized an experienced campaign team and went to work developing the messages to counteract our opponents’ earlier efforts and ultimately bring down the measure on Election Day. It was important not to alienate preschool supporters, but rather to emphasize the “right problem, wrong solution” message. The central message of the campaign became preschool is good, but Proposition 82 is the wrong solution when the state has many other pressing priorities that should come first – like fixing K-12 education.

The partners of RPPA combined a strong research driven message with a strategic multi-pronged campaign framework that included paid media, direct mail and email outreach, slate mail, grassroots outreach and earned media. By Election Day, “No on 82” had won the unlikely  backing of nearly all the papers in the state, a number of prominent Democrat state leaders, as well as from preschool providers themselves. Proposition 82 was defeated with a 60.9% “no” vote—therefore turning the tide on a wave of “tax the rich” proposals in California.

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