Affirmative action opponents turn in petition signed by 129,000 citizens
DENVER – Affirmative action critic Ward Connerly said Monday that the candidacies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton show that the nation is ready to look beyond race and gender and voters should adopt bans on race and gender-based hiring preferences.”I don’t think there is another example if that one doesn’t convince you,” said Connerly, joining supporters of a proposal banning such preferences in Colorado at the state Capitol.Backers of the Colorado measure turned in petitions signed by nearly 129,000 people, about 50,000 more than the minimum number required to get it on this fall’s ballot. The secretary of state will still have to review the petitions to make sure that at least 76,000 of the signatures are from registered voters.The office will also investigate complaints from two people who said they were mislead by those gathering signatures about what the measure would do, spokesman Rich Coolidge said.Connerly is a former University of California regent who has helped pass similar proposals in California, Michigan and Washington State. This year he’s also backing measures in four other states besides Colorado.Although he’s Republican, Connerly said he gave a “token check” to Obama’s campaign because he said the Illinois senator has sent the message that he is a “post-racial candidate.” Connerly said he is not currently an Obama supporter but left the door open to supporting him later.”I applaud as an American his effort to keep race out of the equation. He is not a black candidate,” said Connerly, who is of black, white and American Indian descent.The Colorado proposal would add a section to the state constitution which says that the state may not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race or color as well as sex, ethnicity or national origin. It would apply to hiring, contracts and public education.It’s also supported by Valery Pech Orr, who was a plaintiff in a Colorado case challenging race and gender preferences in construction contracts that went to the Supreme Court, former Sen. Ed Jones, R-Colorado Springs, who tried but failed a similar ban in the Legislature and Sen. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs.Similar initiatives are also in the works in Arizona, Mississippi, Nebraska and Oklahoma.Connerly estimated that the Colorado campaign would cost a total of $2 million but he said the strategy will depend on whether a competing measure dealing with discrimination also ends up on the ballot. It also states that the state shouldn’t discriminate but adds that the state can still take action consistent with the U.S. Constitution and rulings of the Supreme Court, which has upheld limited consideration of race in college admissions.
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