FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 17, 2021
Ward Connerly Expresses Gratitude for Defeat of Racial Preferences in California
Reflects on Equality vs. ‘Equity’ and Victory of NO on Prop 16 Campaign Last November
Sacramento, CA – March 17, 2021 – Ward Connerly, former president of the NO on Prop 16 campaign and president of the American Civil Rights Institute, today offered his reflections on the resounding victory of the NO on Prop 16 campaign in California last November.
“Though President Biden has made ‘racial equity’ the new marching orders of his administration,” Connerly said, “the NO on Prop 16 campaign showed that Americans believe in equality for all, not special treatment for some. We are each other’s equal, not because of color or race, but because we are all Americans.”
Proposition 16 sought to repeal the part of the California Constitution—passed as Proposition 209 in 1996—that prohibits racial discrimination and racial preferences in public employment, public contracting, and public education.
In a state where Biden defeated Trump by nearly 2 to 1, the NO on 16 campaign won by a 14-point margin. This is despite the fact that the Prop 16 campaign enjoyed a funding advantage of 16 to 1, as well as the backing of the entire political, media, sports, and business establishment in the Golden State.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the team that defeated the ‘equity’ agenda in California,” Connerly said. “Equality was upheld because of your courage, commitment, and dedication. As the ‘equity’ agenda seeks to take hold elsewhere across America, I look forward to continuing to the fight with many of you.”
Connerly offered appreciation for the leadership, staff, volunteers, and other supporters who contributed to the NO on 16 victory. They are listed in the Appendix. This press release serves as a historical account of those who participated in the campaign to preserve and defend the ideal of equal rights as enshrined in the California Constitution.
Californians rejected Prop 16 by a margin of 57 to 43 percent in November 2020. Below is a list (an inevitably incomplete one) of those who fought to make this victory possible.
The leadership of NO on 16, many of whom were “present at creation” for the Prop 209 campaign in 1996:
- Arnold Steinberg, strategist. Steinberg’s brilliant strategy positioned the NO on 16 campaign for victory, as his political acumen and extensive campaign experience guided the campaign against tremendous political headwinds.
- Gail Heriot, vice chair. Heriot was the campaign’s largest individual donor. Her expertise and tireless advocacy on this issue was invaluable from beginning to end.
- Manny Klausner, vice chair. Klausner’s generous financial contributions, wise counsel, and steady leadership helped keep the campaign focused on victory at all times.
- Tom Campbell, honorary co-chair. A distinguished statesman known for his political independence, Campbell lent the campaign his stature, intellect, and eloquence.
- Betty Chu, honorary co-chair. A trailblazer and political leader amongst Americans of Asian descent, Chu spoke forcefully on behalf of the campaign and provided extensive guidance.
- Wai Wah Chin, honorary co-chair. A leader in the fight for equality in education in New York, Chin offered valuable advice and support.
- Linda Yang, honorary co-chair. A leader in the defense of equality in Washington State, Yang lent her experience from defeating a similar attempt to restore racial preferences in her home state in 2019.
Veterans of Prop 209
- Quentin Kopp, former judge and state senator. A political independent and elder statesman, Judge Kopp reminded Californians of the grave injustice inflicted by racial discrimination and racial preferences.
- Glynn Custred, co-author of Prop 209 and retired professor. The academic who helped start a revolution in 1996, Custred offered his expertise, advice, and good humor.
- Sheri Annis, interim communications director. Annis provided extensive media outreach and communications expertise, and effectively advocated for the campaign in its early days.
- Ying Ma, communications director. In a campaign where communications was paramount due to COVID-19 and a lopsided funding ratio, Ma delivered a formidable communications operation that reached and persuaded voters of all stripes throughout the state.
Key Advisors and Staff of NO on Prop 16
- Frank Xu, principal officer. Xu raised much of the funding for the campaign from small donors who were Americans of Chinese descent.
- Crystal Lu, vice president. Lu offered assistance and advice for fundraising and community outreach.
- Saga Conroy, secretary. Conroy assisted with political organizational, outreach, and the campaign’s online advertising programming.
- Wenyuan Wu, executive director. With no prior campaign experience, Wu ably oversaw the administration of the campaign.
- Damian Fussell, state chairman. Fussell managed political outreach throughout the state.
- Marc Ang, director of outreach. Drawing on his track record of coalition building and political activism, Ang helped the campaign reach diverse constituencies across racial groups and party lines.
- Joy Chen, director at large. Chen offered early leadership in identifying voters who were discontented with and harmed by racial preferences, and ably advocated for the campaign in person, on social media, and via fundraising efforts.
- Stephen Miller, Orange County co-chair. A political independent, Miller was one of the campaign’s most effective advocates on social media and tirelessly fought for victory through political outreach and organization in Southern California.
- William Baber, treasurer. An experienced professional, Baber guided the campaign through complicated finance laws and regulations.
- Tina Xu, director of Asian community outreach. Xu helped the campaign deliver its message via superb imagery and advocated on its behalf in the Chinese media and local communities.
- Cindy Northon, media advisor. Northon offered able assistance with media outreach.
- Maggie Morgan, research assistant. Morgan competently provided much needed communications support.
- Simone Brown, special advisor.
- Selena C., special advisor.
- Ron F., special advisor.
- Ava L., special advisor.
- Sophia L., special advisor.
Scholars, Writers, Legal and Policy Experts, and Media
Armstrong and Getty Show, Charles Bell, Bakersfield Californian,Tucker Carlson,Larry Elder, Charles Geshekter, John Fund, Mike Gonzalez, Quin Hillyer, Lance Izumi, Jeff Jacoby, George Leef, Ken Masugi, Matt Malkin, William McGurn, Althea Nagai, Sally Pipes, Dennis Prager, Jason Riley, Karina Rollins, John Rosenberg, Richard Sander, Larry Siskind, Southern California News Group, Eugene Volokh, Wall Street Journal
Political Leaders and Community Activists
- Srihari Atluri, President, Los Angeles Telugu Association
- Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, State Senator
- Roger Chandler, Mayor of Arcadia
- Liang-Fang Chao, Vice Mayor of Cupertino
- Phillip Chen, State Assemblyman for District 55
- Paul Cheng, Arcadia City Councilmember
- Carlos Rafael Cruz, former candidate for Assembly District 28
- Vince Dao, Instagram influencer
- Diane Dixon, Newport Beach City Councilmember
- Kali Fontanilla, schoolteacher and “NO on 16” rebuttal signer
- Mike Goldman, former Sunnyvale City Councilmember
- Sudha Kasamsetty, former candidate for Cupertino Union School District Board of Education
- Young Kim, U.S. Representative, 39th Congressional District
- Ling Kong, Milpitas City Commissioner
- Aparna Madireddi, former candidate for Mayor of San Ramon
- Bob Huff, former State Senate Minority Leader
- Mei Mei Huff, Chinese community leader
- John Park, small business owner and community leader
- Nisha Sharma, former candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 11th Congressional District
- Steven Scharf, former Mayor of Cupertino
- Michelle Steel, U.S. Representative, California’s 48th Congressional District
- Shawn Steel, Republican National Committee Member from California
- Eli Steele, filmmaker
- Ritesh Tandon, former candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 17th Congressional District
- Jose Tercero, political consultant
- Leo Terrell, political commentator, longtime civil rights attorney, former opponent of Prop 209, and “NO on 16” rebuttal signer
- Don Wagner, Orange County Supervisor
- Yukong Zhao, Asian Americans Coalition for Education
The vast army of volunteers who gathered to defeat Prop 16 served as the backbone of the movement to defend equality. They worked tirelessly, organizing numerous weekend car rallies, distributing “No on Prop 16” yard signs, making phone calls to politicians in Sacramento, promoting awareness on social media, and much, much more. The volunteers ranged from professionals to homemakers, many of whom were participating in the political process for the first time. Their organizational efforts were phenomenal, with numerous volunteers assuming leadership and taking on tasks without coordination with the campaign. The victory over racial preferences could not have been achieved without their leadership and hard work. An incomplete list of some of the most active volunteers appears below.
Maggie B., Peter Cheng, Grace C., Selena C., Cheney G., Tony G., Emily H., Mary H., Quan H., Echo H., Helen H., John H., Stella H., Cheney G., Susan G., Vibhas I., Zhi J., Judith J., Raymond K., Deborah Lantang, Ava L., Yan L., Henry L., Chuanhua L., Linda L., Sophia L., Yuki L., Luke Rodriguez, Ric S., Deepak Sharma, Yu S., Clarissa Suwoko, Sylvia T., Adrian W., Lisha W., Sam X., Jason X., Ruofei Y., Yang Y., Michael Y., Xiaofeng Y., and Kevin Y., Jannie Z.
For a list of organizations that supported the NO on Prop 16 campaign, please visit https://californiansforequalrights.org/our-coalition/. Special thanks go to Students for Fair Admissions, which contributed $50,000 to the campaign and was its largest donor.