by Max Brantley
Michael Wasserman, the Texas casino promoter who turned up with what he represented were sufficient signatures to qualify his constitutional amendment for an exclusive right to open seven casinos, won't make it to the November ballot.
He failed to get the required minimum alternative of a half-percent of the vote in the last gubernatorial election or 5 percent of the registered voters in each of 15 counties.
Here's Secretary of State Mark Martin's letter notifying Wasserman that at least three of his 15 counties (he actually designated 16) fell short. A "facial" review indicated shortcomings in other counties, the office said.
The county minimums had to be met at the July 6 deadline. The overall signature total of 78,133 for constitutional amendments — if found to be short of registered voters — can be added to during the certification process. Alex Reed of the secretary of state said Wasserman turned in only 332 signatures from Saline County, for example, needing 1,757. He came closer, but still fell short, in both Woodruff and Prairie Counties. Wasserman's canvassing was much less evident than many other initiative campaigns. He apparently gathered most of his signatures in Pulaski County.
The checking continues of the petitions submitted by Nancy Todd for a four-casino amendment being backed by Branson investors as well as those for a severance tax increase and a law to allow medical marijuana. Reed said he didn't know which amendment would be next in the initial check for meeting the signature distribution requirement.
Reed said the office had told Wasserman by phone of the news. It's not a finding that's readily open to any sort of appeal.