Racial spoils system starting to fall apart in California

California’s ruling Democrats are in danger of splintering their coalition over an attempt to re-introduce affirmative action, which has been banned ever since the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, which banned the use of racial preferences by the state, including in higher education. Last month, I noted that:

The ban has decreased black and Hispanic  enrollments in the most competitive institutions, while drastically increasing Asian-American enrollments, particularly at the flagship Berkeley and UCLA campuses. However, graduation rates for black and Hispanic students admitted have increased, reducing the tragedy of students admitted to schools they were ill-equipped to compete in, and dropping out before graduation.

Democrats in the California State Legislature attempted last month put a referendum on the state ballot allowing the return of affirmative action, but the effort fell apart when Asian grass roots organizations and individuals furiously lobbied Asian-Americans in the legislature to oppose the referendum, which would have had the effect of taking coveted slots in higher education away from Asian-Americans and handing them to other groups, principally blacks and Hispanics.

In other words, the zero-sum nature of racial spoils has become evident to erstwhile members of the Democratic coalition that runs California. Yesterday, revenge was exacted against Democrat Asian-American legislators by the blacks and Hispanics. The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert column (hat tip Steve Hayward of Powerline):

Weeks after some Asian-American lawmakers killed a measure to restore affirmative action in California's public colleges by withdrawing their support, backlash from Democrats who supported the effort is surfacing in the Capitol and on the campaign trail. (snip)

several members of the Legislature's black and Latino caucuses withheld their votes on a non-controversial bill, killing the measure by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi. Last week, six black and Latino Democrats sent Sen. Ted Lieu a letter withdrawing their endorsement in his race for Congress. Muratsuchi and Lieu are both Asian Americans and Democrats from Torrance.

Muratsuchi's Assembly bill 2013, a measure to expand the number of electric vehicles entitled to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes, had sailed through two committees with little opposition before falling eleven votes short when it reached the Assembly floor on Monday. As an immediately effective, urgency measure, it required two-thirds approval.

Six lawmakers who had supported the bill in committee reversed and withheld votes, effectively helping to doom the bill. Three are members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus and three are part of the California Legislative Black Caucus, two blocs that issued a joint statement vowing to push ahead with a recently shelved bill that would allow voters to weigh in on the state's affirmative action ban.

Now is the time for GOP outreach to Asian-Americans, a growing minority with a heavy presence in key states.

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