Friday, November 09, 2007

Corzine to NJ voters: We're building it anyway

The voters speak but the politicians think they are ignorant and just need to be educated by commercials featuring Brad Pitt and other actors. That's the gist of this article:

As the battle over embryonic stem cell research raged for two years in California, Nancy Reagan made emotional appeals in countless television commercials and Brad Pitt passed the word in personal appearances, part of a well-organized $30 million campaign to persuade voters to approve the financing.

In 2004, California voters overwhelmingly approved $3 billion for the largest state-run scientific research effort in the country.

Three years later, organizers of a similar effort in New Jersey mounted a tepid two-month campaign with about $600,000, seeking voter approval for a $450 million bond issue for the scientific research. A television commercial featured a rap group that last had a significant hit 25 years ago.

After the last of the election results trickled in Tuesday night showing that the New Jersey initiative had failed, 53 percent to 47 percent, politicians and pollsters alike were confounded. Yet the result was little surprise to the measure’s most ardent supporters, some of whom had not formed a political action committee until September.

Supporters now say they were undone by assuming too much in a state that has become solidly Democratic over the last decade and by spending too little time and money trying to defeat a coalition of well-organized opponents.

“We were behind the eight ball right away, and we knew we had our work cut out for us,” said Russ Oster, a political consultant with New Jersey for Hope, a political action committee formed in support of the bond issue. “The right-wing groups really got a jump on this and had an instant campaign. They ran 365 days a year. We didn’t have a natural campaign in place.”

The initiative’s defeat was a blow to Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who made stem cell research a key part of his campaign in 2005.

The state also has recently broken ground on a $270 million research center in New Brunswick. Mr. Corzine said he expected lawmakers now to seek smaller appropriations for the research. The governor also said that despite Tuesday’s result, he believed that most New Jerseyans supported the effort.

“There’s still a favorable view about stem cell research,” Mr. Corzine told reporters Wednesday.
Yeah, you keep telling yourself that while you try to squeeze the money for it out of the budget or try to hit up Big Pharm.

And he plans to put it on the ballot again. Great! I hope that the message gets out there how expensive this boondoggle has been because NJ has already sunk millions into this swampland project:
The state is already heavily invested in stem cell research. Since 2003, the state Legislature has committed $270 million to building three stem cell research facilities, and $10 million in grants for researcher salaries. The state broke ground last month in New Brunswick for the $150 million Stem Cell Research Institute of New Jersey.

Corzine said he expects another $20 million will be allocated from the state's general operating budget to keep stem cell work going.