Proposition 71 Growing Ever Larger

Proposition 71 on the California state ballot - to fund regulated embryonic stem cell research to the tune of $300 million a year for ten years - is looking about as certain to pass as these things get.

Oakland billionaires Marion and Herbert Sandler contributed $1 million to the campaign supporting a November bond measure in California that would make $3 billion available for stem-cell research.

The Sandlers are prominent Democratic donors, as are most of the big donors to a campaign that has amassed more than $8 million this year. Opponents of the proposition, which include the Roman Catholic Church, have not reported a single contribution.

The Sandlers made their contribution Friday, according to campaign finance records made available Wednesday. The gift came three days after the son of former President Reagan delivered a prime-time speech endorsing stem-cell research at the Democratic Convention in Boston.

Reading between the lines, and looking at the timing (November presidential elections, November California state budget), this initiative has become something of a referendum on stem cell research in general over the past few months. One can imagine that many of these donors see strong California support for the research as a hedge against continuing restrictions at the Federal level and in other states.

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