As of Monday, Proposition 19 has won the support of one of the state’s most powerful unions, offering the ballot measure a shot of mainstream legitimacy as well as a potential financial and organizational lift.
According to officials, the decision by the executive board of the Service Employees International Union of California will be announced in the next few days. Those officials have been briefed about it but were not allowed to speak publicly before it was announced.
The measure has faced strong opposition from law enforcement groups, including Sheriff Lee Baca of Los Angeles County, who said he would lead a campaign against it as a threat to public safety.
But the proposal also won support on Monday from some former law enforcement officials, including police officers, judges and prosecutors.
The measure is quickly emerging as one of the top, and most contentious, ballot issues in the nation this November. Polls show that it has the support of a slight majority of voters. But political analysts said that this kind of measure, given the social stigma that comes with illicit drug use, could prove difficult to poll. Johnny Green wrote a great article analyzing all the recent Prop 19 polls.
At the very least, the support by the SEIU, which claims over 700,000 members in the state, could make it easier for other groups to rally around the measure. More practically, it means access to the union’s considerable campaign apparatus, which could finance mailings, telephone calls and leaflets.