Campaigning On The Cheap, Prop 19 Still Builds Buzz Proposition 19, the California ballot measure that would legalize pot for recreational use, is stirring up lots of attention across the country. But at home in the Golden State, it's definitely a low-budget affair with neither side spending big bucks on a massive media campaign.
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Campaigning On The Cheap, Prop 19 Still Builds Buzz

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Campaigning On The Cheap, Prop 19 Still Builds Buzz

Campaigning On The Cheap, Prop 19 Still Builds Buzz

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

Prop 19 is one of the hottest issues on the California ballot, but you would never know it from the lack of commercials. Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.

RICHARD GONZALES: In the headquarters for the Yes on 19 Campaign in downtown Oakland...

LOUISE KELLY: Hello, Mrs. Lupe.

GONZALES: Volunteers are logging about 6,000 phone calls a day to likely voters.

LOUISE KELLY: Lupe, my name is Gregory Lyon and I'm a volunteer with the Yes on Proposition 19 Campaign. Have you heard about Proposition 19?

GONZALES: Usually a California ballot initiative needs several million dollars for expensive TV and radio ads to reach the state's 17 million voters. Prop 19 appears to be the exception.

LOUISE KELLY: Basically it's a grass-roots campaign, no pun intended.

GONZALES: Sasha Horwitz is the new media coordinator for Prop 19.

LOUISE KELLY: We're utilizing all the excitement on college campuses; on the Internet, we've got a Facebook group with over 200,000 fans. We're almost at 210,000. We're partnering with blogs that also have their own virtual phone banking tools.

GONZALES: Horowitz calls it a high-tech, low-capital campaign. The pro-marijuana side has raised less than $3 million, much of it spent on the petition drive that got Prop 19 on the ballot. But that's still 10 times more than the anti-Prop 19 forces have raised.

LOUISE KELLY: It is a low-dollar campaign. I think a lot of what we're trying to do right now is do it on the cheap, I guess.

GONZALES: Roger Salazar is a spokesman for a group called Public Safety First. It's backed primarily by law enforcement organizations and the California Chamber of Commerce.

LOUISE KELLY: Money aside, it's a very sort of sexy issue for a lot of the media, so the interviews that we've been doing on radio, television and the print media, you know, have been nonstop for the last couple of months.

GONZALES: Salazar and other election experts say most campaign dollars are getting soaked up in the high-profile races for governor and the Senate, not to mention a half-dozen controversial ballot initiatives on taxes and climate change.

LOUISE KELLY: All the other propositions on the ballot have some big money, big financial interests behind them.

GONZALES: Kim Alexander directs the California Voter Foundation.

LOUISE KELLY: That's not the case with Prop 19, you know, we don't have a well-established marijuana industry in California.

GONZALES: Richard Gonzales, NPR News, San Francisco.

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