GOP congressman says he will fund struggling electoral vote plan
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO (AP) ” Rep. Darrell Issa, the wealthy congressman who helped bankroll the 2003 campaign to recall California’s Democratic governor, is stepping in to revive an effort that could deliver more than a third of the state’s electoral votes to the Republican presidential candidate in 2008.
A previous bid to change the way California awards its electoral votes failed last month when the consultants running the campaign abruptly resigned, unable to raise money and facing scrutiny over the one large donation they received.
Those involved in the new effort will need at least $2.5 million to $3 million to pay petitioners to gather enough voter signatures by the end of November, the expected deadline to qualify the initiative for the June primary election ballot.
Issa, a Republican who made millions in the car alarm business, said Wednesday that he would contribute less than the $1.7 million he gave to qualify the measure that led to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.
But he also said he was urging his own donor network to give to the Electoral College campaign.
The proposal would abolish California’s winner-take-all system of awarding its 55 Electoral College votes. Instead, the statewide winner would get two votes and the rest would be divided up based on which candidate won in each of the state’s 53 congressional districts.
If the measure had been in effect in 2004, President Bush would have received 22 of California’s electoral votes, and Democrat John Kerry, the statewide winner, would have gotten the rest.
Kevin Eckery, a campaign consultant who was involved in the first effort to qualify the initiative, said he had spoken with the new campaign manager, Dave Gilliard, and had been told that Issa would come through with enough money to qualify the measure.
“My understanding is he’s prepared to make sure it gets done,” Eckery said, referring to Issa, who represents a San Diego-area congressional district. “Dave has worked out a deal that they get what they need, whether it’s from his pocket or his family of contributors.”
Gilliard said others would contribute besides Issa.
“It’s not going to be like the recall, where he has to do it all by himself,” Gilliard said.
Democrats have launched a fierce attack against the proposed ballot measure, underscoring its potential to upend the 2008 race.
Unless other large states also changed their rules before the 2008 general election, analysts say the California change would make it difficult for a Democrat to win the presidency.
Measure supporters need to collect about 700,000 signatures to endure that they have enough valid signatures of registered voters to qualify the proposal.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
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