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Measure Fails to Qualify for Ballot

Times Staff Writer

Supporters of an initiative that would bar illegal immigrants from receiving many public services announced Monday that they had failed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Three days before the deadline, backers said the petition drive was about 115,000 signatures short of the 598,105 needed to present the measure to voters. Organizers, based in Southern California, had planned to mail petitions today to election offices in Northern California counties to meet the April 29 deadline.

Organizer Ron Prince blamed the initiative’s failure on lack of support and funding from Republican Party leaders.

Ten years earlier, the Republican Party establishment supported Proposition 187, a similar measure that voters approved but was later ruled unconstitutional. Experts said the GOP support turned many Latino voters against the party and prompted Republican officials to keep their distance from this year’s effort.

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“It set the Republican Party back for a decade,” said election law expert Fred Woocher. “The last thing Republicans want now during a presidential election year is to be perceived as anti-Latino.”

The group backing the new initiative -- known as Save Our State -- relied mainly on volunteers and sent more than 100,000 petitions by mail and 1.3 million by e-mail. But the group lacked significant financial support and raised less than $47,000.

Prince, who was the author of Proposition 187, said he planned to try again in coming months -- next time abandoning the grass-roots approach and concentrating on raising enough money to hire signature gatherers.

“We could be back on the street with a new petition in about 90 days,” he said.


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