Can You Call a Con-Con?

Today's addition to the ballot measure guide: Three states are voting on whether to hold constitutional conventions (or "con-cons," if you want to ...
by | October 8, 2008

Today's addition to the ballot measure guide: Three states are voting on whether to hold constitutional conventions (or "con-cons," if you want to be cutesy).

The fundamental question: Is a constitutional convention a way to reform government or an invitation for lobbyists to rewrite the rules of the game in their favor?

State: Connecticut

Issue: A proposal to call a state constitutional convention.

Analysis: By rule, every twenty years the voters of Connecticut are asked whether they want to overhaul their constitution. This year, the proposal has sparked a hot debate in the state. Proponents want a convention to create a citizen initiative process, but critics contend that a constitutional rewrite would turn into a lobbyist free-for-all. Gov. Jodi Rell favors the convention, but Connecticut's other statewide elected officials oppose it.

State: Hawaii

Issue: A proposal to call a state constitutional convention.

Analysis: Hawaiians vote every ten years on whether to hold a constitutional convention. Elected Democrats -- who hold most key offices except the governorship in Hawaii -- are generally opposing the convention, while Republicans favor it.

State: Illinois

Issue: A proposal to call a state constitutional convention.

Analysis: Like Connecticut and Hawaii, Illinois votes on constitutional conventions at regular intervals (20 years in this case). When Illinois voted in 1988 on the question, only a quarter of voters backed a constitutional convention. This time around, however, voters' antipathy toward their political leaders -- and toward Gov. Rod Blagojevich in particular -- has some observers wondering whether the political dynamics will be different this time around. But, a broad coalition of business and labor groups is fighting the idea.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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