Kansas City, MO – A petition to ban race and gender-based affirmative action in Missouri has failed to gather enough valid signatures. It's a second set-back for California businessman Ward Connerly's campaign to get the issue on the November ballot in five states, in what he was calling "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights."
In recent years, voters in California, Washington and Michigan have all passed similar initiatives prohibiting state agencies from using race and gender as factors in hiring, college admissions and scholarships. Kansas City Urban League president Gwen Grant was a part of a coalition which sent hundreds of canvassers out to follow the people gathering signatures to present opposing information.
GRANT: We have become more sophisticated in how to challenge Connerly's initiatives and we got out in front of them as soon as we heard they were coming.
Tim Asher, who led the campaign, says they had a late start because the ballot language was challenged by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
TAPE: ASHER: With the limited amount of time, we feel like that was a tremendous show of support by the people of Missouri and why we've decided to go ahead and come back in 2010 and give them the opportunity to give them a call.
A similar campaign in Oklahoma also withdrew its petition last month. Proponents of affirmative action limits are still collecting signatures in Nebraska and Arizona. Colorado's initiative made it on the ballot, but the validity of some signatures are being contested.