A leader of a campaign for a statewide vote to ban affirmative action in Michigan says his group has given up the effort to make the November ballot and now is aiming for 2006.

The extra time is needed because of "internal disorganization, internal discord, legal decisions" and the health problems of campaign founder Ward Connerly, said state Rep. Leon Drolet (search), campaign co-chairman.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (search) needed to collect at least 317,757 petition signatures by July 5 to gain a spot on the fall statewide ballot. It is opposed by Citizens for a United Michigan.

The state constitutional amendment advocated by Drolet's group would have banned racial preferences in government hiring and university admissions. The ballot proposal already faced a legal challenge, with a case pending in the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Drolet told The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens on Thursday that Connerly, who championed a successful ballot initiative dismantling most affirmative action programs in California, has been ill for about six of the past 12 months. He said Connerly, 69, has had surgery and has been hospitalized in California several times.