Many Republican activists have resigned themselves to minority status in the state legislature, where Democrats control at least 60 percent of the seats in both the Senate and Assembly. Now they are turning to the people in hopes of advancing their stalled agenda in 2008.
Four conservative-backed ballot campaigns, including one to etch a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution, have amassed $8.9 million to put measures before voters in November. The other measures would require minors to notify a guardian before obtaining an abortion, stiffen anti-gang statutes and expand crime victims' rights.
"The reality is they do stand a chance with the voters, and they don't stand a chance in the Legislature," said Mark Baldassare, president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
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