Even with friends in important places, Gov. Jerry Brown is going to have a hard time qualifying his proposed prison reform measure for the ballot. The California District Attorneys Association, which opposes Brown’s plan to make it easier for prisoners to be paroled, filed a brief with the state Supreme Court earlier this week saying Brown’s small chance of qualifying his initiative because of a late start should cause the court to dismiss the governor’s appeal of a lower court ruling that the initiative was improperly amended.

Recall that the governor created his measure by amending a previously filed initiative. Under a relatively new law governing initiatives, amendments made to all ready filed initiatives are allowed, as long the changes are germane to the initial purpose. The District Attorneys Association contended that the amendments were far afield from the original initiative’s purpose. A lower court agreed. The Supreme Court allowed the governor to begin collecting signatures to qualify the measure while it considered the matter.

The District Attorneys have a good point in questioning Brown’s ability to qualify the initiative by the April 26 deadline.

The governor’s campaign has yet to file a required certificate that it has reached a threshold of 25% of the needed signatures to qualify for the ballot (about 145,000.) That means he has about five weeks to gather another 800,000 signatures or so, more than 150,000 a week. Since his current rate of signature collection is about 50,000 a week, that is a big hill to climb—and he’d have to climb it swiftly.

Perhaps the governor thinks he can persuade county Registrars of Voters to push hard to count the signatures he submits. There are many other initiatives seeking qualification for the ballot and registrars are going to be busy counting signatures.

Could the governor jump ahead in line?

He’s not supposed to but when he worked to qualify the Proposition 30 school tax for the ballot in 2012 some suspected he was given an advantage during the signature tabulation stage. Recall that Molly Munger, who was promoting her own school tax initiative at the time, sued claiming Brown’s measure was put ahead of others that were submitted to the registrars before his. Her lawsuit was unsuccessful.

It’s good to have friends in important places when it comes to the initiative process, as Joe Mathews pointed out in a recent article commenting on how the Attorney General seems to turn around the title and summary for the governor’s initiatives in supersonic time.

While government officials can be kind to a governor’s request, there is not much that can be done about speeding up the process for gathering signatures. The governor price per signature, I am told, is already up to $5 per name. The market is forcing an increasing price war with other measures keeping pace meaning that the relatively high $5 fee for this sort of thing does not give his campaign much of an advantage over other measures.