In two ballot initiatives closely watched around the country, California voters dismantled the state's 30-year-old bilingual education system and rejected a measure that would have reduced the political power of labor unions.
"Many other states . . . will now be evaluating their bilingual education," predicted Ron Unz, the software millionaire who crusaded for Proposition 227, the measure eliminating bilingual education in favor of no more than one year of an English immersion program."By passing this in California, we've already had a national impact. Half of all the bilingual programs in the country are in California," Unz said.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting in Tuesday's election, 61 percent of voters approved Proposition 227, while 39 percent opposed it.
As with a 1994 ballot measure cutting state services to illegal immigrants and the 1996 proposal repealing affirmative action, opponents planned to try to stop Proposition 227 in court.
The other hot ballot measure before California voters was Proposition 226, which would have required unions to get members' permission before using dues for political contributions.
With most union political efforts favoring Democrats, big business and Republicans led the fight for Proposition 226.
Similar bills and propositions have arisen in more than two dozen states, and labor leaders hoped a defeat in California would deflate enthusiasm for the concept across the country.
Six other states also held primaries Tuesday, but none had as crowded a ballot as California, where spending in the state's top races eclipsed $100 million.
California voters made Rep. Jay Kim, the first Korean-American elected to Congress, the first incumbent to lose a primary this year, and gave Jerry Brown and Bob Dornan new political life.
Lt. Gov. Gray Davis won the Democratic gubernatorial primary over Rep. Jane Harman and former airline executive Al Checchi, both of whom spent millions attacking each other in TV ads and virtually ignored Davis until it was too late.
Davis' win sets up a November race against Republican Attorney General Dan Lungren, who got 33 percent against token opposition in the state's first free-for-all open primary, in which anyone could vote for any candidate regardless of party affiliation. The top finisher in each party moved on the November election.
Republican Gov. Pete Wilson is barred by state law from seeking a third term.
State Treasurer Matt Fong won the Republican Senate nomination by beating car alarm mogul Darrell Issa, who pumped $10 million of his own money into the race, on TV ads.
Brown, the former governor and failed presidential candidate, was elected mayor of Oakland, while Dornan won the right to a rematch against Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez. Dornan blamed voter fraud on his loss to Sanchez two years ago and has been fighting to get his seat back ever since.
Miller got 32 percent of the vote to Kim's 18 percent. The Democratic nomination went to Diamond Bar City Councilwoman Eileen R. Ansari, who was unopposed.
In Alabama, Gov. Fob James said he wasn't embarrassed at being forced into a June 30 runoff with moderate businessman Winton Blount, despite the support of nationally known conservatives such as Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly and Ralph Reed.
The Democratic nominee is Lt. Gov. Don Siegelman, who beat three rivals for the nomination.
In Iowa, where Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is retiring after four terms, former Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot, the Republican nominee, faces Democratic state Sen. Tom Vilsack.
In New Mexico, former Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chavez won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and will face Republican Gov. Gary E. Johnson, who was unopposed in his bid for a second term. State Attorney General Tom Udall, son of former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, won the Democratic nomination in a crowded congressional primary for the right to challenge GOP Rep. Bill Redmond.