Constitutional Convention On The Ropes

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The political campaign organized to convene a constitutional convention in California is, in the words of a top campaign official, "pausing" its efforts to get the measure on the November ballot.

Repair California, the campaign created to collect signatures and then have two separate convention-related measures on the ballot, told supporters today that things aren't looking good.

Campaign chief John Grubb tells KQED that they are "hoping there are some angels out there" who will come forward with enough cash to push the reform effort forward. State campaign finance records show the group has raised less than $500,000 so far; one source said today the campaign probably needs an additional $4 million to get the measures qualified.

Check back for more details soon...

4:45 pm: The following quote is from Grubb to my KQED colleague, Cy Musiker: "We put a pause on our signature gathering. We still have plenty of time to do it. But we’re trying to wait for our funding to catch up." Grubb said that so far, they've only gathered about 140,000 signatures on the two measures combined... a small fraction of what's needed to qualify the initiatives (one would allow voters to call a convention, the second would actually call the convention). He also said that they can continue with "reduced" staff for another 30 days before officially calling it quits.

5:13 pm: It should be noted that Repair California was (or is?) holding a campaign event tonight in Santa Clara. Odd timing, unfortunately, for those planning to attend.

5:35 pm: More from Grubb, talking about their efforts to get donors to hand over cash: "We have some big 'asks' out there right now." Grubb said their budget is $3.6 million to get the sigs, says that this is a "tough economy" to raise money for a good government effort. He says their staff has totaled about 120 people.

5:54 pm: Grubb called me to say that there are still initiatives being circulated, but that they've "cut back significantly." He also said while the suspension decision was based on finances, "it hasn't helped" that -- in his opinion -- some professional signature gathering operations have been fighting their efforts.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new California Politics & Government Desk. He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades, serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and most recently as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. In 2014, he was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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