Was it Confidence or Money that Prompted Brown to Stop Signature Drive?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Governor Jerry Brown’s campaign announced last week that he was confident of the signature gathering effort on the tax initiative created by a compromise with the California Federation of Teachers and he stopped collecting signatures on his original tax initiative.  At least that’s the official word. Could there be something else at work?

With the original tax measure on the street along with the compromise measure and attorney Molly Munger’s tax increase initiative, the multiple tax initiatives were causing confusion with the voters.

Focusing on one initiative removes some of that confusion.

But, there is also the issue of money.

Most initiatives need professional signature gatherers to help get the necessary signatures to qualify a ballot measure. The governor’s compromise initiative is already spending three dollars a signature, well above other current initiative efforts.

Because of the tight deadline for acquiring over a million signatures in about five or six weeks the cost will probably go up as the petition drive nears its deadline.

The governor also has recently used direct mail to promote his measure. The accuracy rate for valid signatures is better with direct mail than collecting signatures at the mall. That’s because signatures gathered on the street present a greater likelihood of problems such as individuals not registered as voters signing. However, direct mail is more expensive.

Rushing to get signatures means that the validity rate might be lower than anticipated. Joe Mathews reported on this site last week that petition circulators are facing penalties for bringing in too many false signatures. As Mathews wrote, “Petition circulators told me that they are being threatened with penalties – 50 cents each deducted from what they’re paid – for even the smallest problems with signatures.”

This means Brown needs more money to fund his qualifying effort.

One place to get that money was to shut down the signature drive on his original tax initiative.

Despite confident declarations on the signature drive, it’s still a valid question whether the governor’s tax initiative has the resources and will be able to gather enough valid signatures to qualify his new measure in such a short time.

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