by Max Brantley
Sheffield Nelson, who's been leading a campaign to increase the severance tax on natural gas, said it will be Tuesday before he announces the committee's plans on continuing the petition drive for the initiative.
Nelson learned Thursday that the committee had a 70 percent failure rate on trying to get registered voters to sign petitions to put the increase on the ballot. That leaves the committee needing more than 41,000 signatures, with 30 days from last Thursday to get them. The committee had gathered 69,774, needing 62,507 from registered voters. With even a 60 percent success rate, the committee would need another 70,000 signatures to qualify. Signature gathering was to continue after Thursday, but I'd call this a prohibitive longshot.
UPDATE: Word is that the 21,000 registered voters Nelson was able to gather may be further reduced by some duplicate signatures. Or so say the whispers from those close to the gas company-financed campaign to beat the initiative.