The game is on in quest of a new constitution for California. In filing the initiative to call a state constitutional convention, Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council said this is an “historic day” for the state.

Perhaps. Getting the call for a constitutional convention approved by the voters and successfully creating a new constitution faces many hurdles. Elsewhere on this site, Joe Mathews gives a run down on the details involved with establishing the convention, including the complicated delegate selection process. Loren Kaye contributes his view on the powerful Clerk position created for the convention as proposed by the initiative.

My purpose is to give some thought to whether this constitutional convention measure might pass if it qualifies for the ballot.

The complication of the delegate selection process will work against it. Just reading the paragraph dealing with delegate selection in the million-plus population cities repeated word for word in the Mathews piece would move voters to grab bottles of aspirin. Not knowing where a convention could lead will make for an unsteady hand as voters reach to mark a ballot.

Two measures were filed on this issue. I assume the voters will pass the measure that gives them the power to call a constitutional convention now or in the future. Voters like to vote, after all, and they will not refuse this additional power. The question at hand is whether voters will pass the second measure to actually call the convention. There will certainly be concerns from some voters that this measure limits a convention to areas of governance; others might object to how delegates are selected; even more will simply refuse to open the constitution to change fearing possible results.

However, what really could affect the success or failure of the constitutional convention measure if it is on the November 2010 ballot will be what other issues are on the same ballot.

Wunderman suggests fundraising in support of his measure will come from philanthropists and small donors who want to see the state governing process reformed. Such a strategy does not portend a big campaign budget.

But, money that might be spent to defeat a constitutional convention proposal could well be directed for and against other measures that have a more immediate impact on the political contributors.

If the ballot is chock full of measures that affect the economic interests of some of California’s big players – raising business property tax, pay-check protection measure to cut union political dues, oil and cigarette taxes dedicated to certain funds, even cultural and social issues that will divert campaign contributions – interests on both sides of the issues will be pouring their resources into winning these fights.

There will be little money, if not little attention, paid to funding the opposition or support for a constitutional convention initiative.

If voters become frustrated with playing legislators again over a ballot full of initiative measures, they just may search out the constitutional convention measure to send a message and vote: Yes.

Despite its flaws and complications that would tend to have voters reject the measure, there is a scenario in which the constitutional convention initiative could pass.