The California Recall: Big Joke
SAN FRANCISCO — Despite leading the country in so many ways — music, movies, fashion, technology, innovation, science — California’s still often unfairly derided as “the land of fruits and nuts.” But, once in a while, it earns the title. As it does today with the attempt to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.
It’s now official. Secretary of State Shirley Weber has confirmed that organizers collected enough signatures to qualify the recall: 1,495,235 valid signatures, or 12 percent of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Which will trigger a special statewide recall election in October or November.
Let’s be clear. This is no serious political measure. This has nothing to do with policy or important issues. This is nothing but a pathetic political ploy played on the people of California by delusional state and national supporters of Donald Trump.
“No doubt about it,” Richard Spotswood, politics and government columnist for the San Rafael Independent-Journal, told me. “This is a 100 percent partisan political campaign.” And, as Spotswood pointed out, you don’t have to look hard to see the evidence of that.
The head of RescueCalifornia.org, the sponsor of the recall, is Bay Area attorney Tom Del Beccaro, former chair of the California Republican Party, former chair of the Contra Costa County Republican Party, and former president of the 58 Republican Party County Chairmen.
Not only that. Funding for the signature-gathering campaign included $250,000 from the Republican National Committee and $125,000 from the California Republican Party. And the Republican Governors Association has established a special PAC — “Recall Newsom! RGA Action” — to raise funds nationwide in support of the recall.
What makes the recall notoriously partisan is the fact that, so far, only Republican candidates have filed to run against Newsom: wealthy former Congressman Doug Ose; John Cox, who ran against Newsom in 2018 and lost by 24 points; and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has little name recognition statewide and endorsed Donald Trump in 2020.
In California, that could turn out to be a fatal mistake. According to the latest Morning Consult poll, Donald Trump has only a 34 percent approval rating in California, 49th out of 50 states. Only Vermont’s lower, with 29 percent. As Spotswood told me, nobody linked to Trump could win statewide in California. Not even former Olympian and Trump supporter Caitlyn Jenner, America’s most famous trans, who’s committing political suicide by running as a Republican when her party’s actually waging war against transgender Americans.
In fact, the only way to change the naked partisanship of the recall would be for some prominent Democrat to file against Newsom, but so far — under pressure from Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — no Democrat has stepped forward. Reportedly, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s seriously interested, but after his embarrassing third-place finish against Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, it’s doubtful he’ll jump in.
Nevertheless, Democrats are not taking the recall for granted. They’re obsessed by fear that this could prove to be a repeat of the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003. Yet, that’s highly unlikely, because of the suburban shift toward Democrats in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Sacramento counties in the last 18 years. The math tells the story.
In 2003, Republicans accounted for 34 percent of the California population; in 2021, they’ve shrunk to 24 percent. Democrats, meanwhile, have climbed to 46 percent. In 2000, George W. Bush lost California by 1.3 million votes; in 2020, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in California by 5.1 million votes. Plus, Newsom’s stronger politically than Davis ever was. In 2018, Gavin Newsom won his race for governor by 3 million votes; in 2002, Gray Davis won by only 400,000 votes.
Two other factors weigh heavily against the recall: why and when. Aside from pure partisanship — Republicans itching to get rid of any Democrat — the recall was initially prompted by anger over Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But that argument has almost disappeared as vaccines are readily available and schools and businesses have reopened. Today, California has the lowest number of new cases of any state.
As to timing, Newsom’s not the perfect governor. He’s made lots of mistakes. There are plenty of valid reasons to vote against him. But anybody who wants to do so will have that opportunity in 2022, when he’s up for re-election. There’s no need to advance the timetable by one year. The whole California recall is an expensive joke that’s bound to fail.”
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
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