This is ugly:
An effort to legalize marijuana for adults in Washington is in danger of not making the ballot this year, after support from the state's progressive establishment failed to materialize.... The campaign can't afford to hire paid signature gatherers, and it has recently been counting on financial support from the Service Employees International Union - a big player in liberal politics. But Monday, the labor union said no such support would be forthcoming.
The campaign just sent out one of the more palpably bitter press releases I've ever seen:
"Politics in this state stink," said Philip Dawdy, I-1068 campaign director and an initiative co-author. "Marijuana smells better. It’s disappointing that SEIU and others have walked away from us, but this campaign will fight on because the issue is simply too important."
Dawdy said he's especially frustrated that the SEIU and others walked away from I-1068 after romancing it for a month because Sensible Washington, sponsors of I-1068, originally approached the state Democratic Party and others in progressive politics back in February, asking for advice and guidance on running a successful initiative campaign. Sensible Washington was ignored until May when it became apparent I-1068 would be a good voter turnout tool. Sensible Washington was told that various political actors in this state felt marijuana law reform was a fringe issue and that people were nervous about potentially being tied to such a campaign.
The group goes on to bash the ACLU after the jump.
"It’s 2010 and we’re still facing the old-fashioned, out-dated stigma around marijuana,” said Dawdy. “Voters are five to ten years ahead of the Legislature and the powers-that-be on marijuana law reform. We have a little over three weeks to go and now is the perfect time for the citizens of this state to register their discontent with this state's marijuana laws and this state's politics by signing I-1068. We're going to fight for the people of this state until the end."
“If we get some more volunteers, we can legalize marijuana in Washington State,” said Jeffrey Steinborn, an initiative co-author and Seattle-based attorney who has defended marijuana users for three decades. I-1068 currently has a volunteer base of 1.800 people and the petition is hosted at over 200 businesses statewide.
The I-1068 campaign has faced down numerous obstacles since forming in January: banks refusing to process online donations; a lack of funding; the ACLU of Washington publicly announcing its non-support of I-1068; police seizing signed I-1068 petitions; a very cold and wet spring which has hampered signature gathering; and an initiative process that is clearly tilted against average citizens and in favor of big moneyed interests.
“The armchair liberals at the ACLU have decided that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized this year,” said Steinborn. “If they’d given us a neutral response, we could’ve raised the funds to get this on the ballot, but they didn’t.”
Another problem the campaign has faced is getting people with signed petitions to turn them in. The I-1068 campaign currently has over 20,000 petitions—enough for 400,000-plus signatures—in circulation in this state that have not come back into the campaign's Seattle offices. To date, well over 100,000 people have signed the initiative. The campaign’s goal is to collect 320,000 signatures.
In the past, other all-volunteer initiative efforts have collected well over 200,000 signatures in the final weeks of June.
"We're really looking forward to the public getting signed petitions into us sooner rather than later," said Dawdy. "Hanging onto them until the end of June could create a logistical logjam."
The campaign has until June 30 to collect 241,153 valid signatures and turn them in to the Secretary of State's office.