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Faced with a steep cash shortage and a ticking clock to qualify for the November ballot, leaders of an effort to stage a constitutional convention said today they have "called it quits."

"We're going to take a hiatus on this issue," said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of Bay Area Council, a business group backing the movement. "We ran into a situation where we didn't have the money in the bank."

The announcement comes several days after a spokesman for the effort said they would significantly scale back their campaign unless several major deep-pocketed finance "angels" appeared.

The campaign, Repair California, reported raising about $350,000 in 2009 -- well under the $3 million to $3.5 million organizers estimated they'd need to collect the more than a million signatures needed to place their two measures on the ballot.

Organizers said the struggling economy was a top reason the Bay Area Council wasn't able to deliver on its pledge to pour $2 million into the effort.

"I think there's a lot of interest out there that didn't show up in dollars. ... The economy out there is just something else," Wunderman said. "We thought we could, people said they would (donate), but it just didn't happen."

Wunderman said organizers believe they had the campaign in place to "reconstitute the effort and actually get to the ballot in time" if several big donors stepped up in the coming weeks.

But supporters acknowledged that was a longshot.

"To say it's disappointing is an understatement," he said



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