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Are Californians Ready for Another Recall … This Time,  Governor Newsom?

LA WATCHDOG--It appears that the proponents of recalling Governor Gavin Newsom will have enough signatures to place a measure on the ballot to recall Newsom.

  But what are the odds of the voters telling Newsom that he will be following in the footsteps of Gray Davis who was sent packing by 55% of the voters in 2003?  And if Gavin is recalled, who will be our next governor? 

If placed on the ballot, the effort to recall Newsom will create a massive food fight that will cost the State an estimated $80 million according several media sources.  And just imagine the amount of cash and energy that will be spent by both sides of the recall.  This means that we will be bombarded by advertisements, spam, and half-truths that will drive us to drink. 

One of the major arguments for ousting Newsom is that he botched the State’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  But in Newsom’s defense, he was and still is in a no win position, caught between closing the State’s economy or exposing more Californians to the virus.  Of course, it did not help that he was changed course on several occasions.  

And unlike Gray Davis who plagued by budget deficits, power outages, and outrage over an increase in the vehicle license fee, Newsom is looking at surplus revenues fueled by a robust stock market that has generated enormous revenues from the capital gains tax. 

A recent Emerson College poll also showed that 42% of the voters favored Newsom remaining as Governor, 38% were for the recall, and 20% had not made up their mind or will not vote.  But this is before the money starts to flow. 

We can expect the political establishment of our one-party state and the public sector unions to support Newsom.  The opponents are already claiming this is partisan Republican effort led by evil Trump supporters seeking to overturn the last gubernatorial election.  They will also claim that the recall will hinder the State’s efforts to combat the virus and to create more jobs by reinvigorating the economy. 

But the recall proponents will take the opportunity to turn this election into a referendum on the State and how the Sacramento politicians and bureaucracy do not work for Californians. 

They will cite the dysfunctional Department of Motor Vehicles, the $33 billion fraud associated with the Economic Development Department, and the boondoggle known as High-Speed Rail that will now cost over $100 billion and subject to decades of delay. 

They will also target the public sector unions and their lip lock on the Governor and Legislature, highlighting the very expensive contracts with the prison guards.  And of course, the underfunded and unsustainable pension plan for state employees and teachers will be front and center along with our crumbling infrastructure and our failed educational system.  

Our ballot will have two parts, one on the recall and the second on who will we chose to be our next governor.  If the recall is approved by a majority of the voters, then the State will tabulate the votes for Governor with the candidate with the most votes (does not need to be a majority) declared our next Governor.  In the 2003 recall of Gray Davis, there were 135 candidates for Governor with winner being Arnold Schwarzenegger with 49% of the vote. 

Several candidates have surfaced, including Republicans Kevin Falconer, the former mayor of San Diego, and John Cox, a 2018 candidate for Governor.  Others mentioned include Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles.   But there is no candidate with the star power of Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

But one question is whether there will be a strong Democratic candidate such as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti or Councilman Kevin de Leon, the ambitious former speaker of the Assembly who ran against Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2018.  Of course, a viable Democratic candidate may not be appreciated by the political establishment. But then again, the Democrats do not need another Cruz Bustamante on the ballot who received only 31% of the votes in 2003. 

Needless to say, the slate of candidates will impact the recall vote as the devil you know may be better than the devil you don’t know.  

We have a long way to go, assuming the recall is placed on the ballot.  And more than likely, it will drive us all crazy listening to these politicians, both pro and con.  But in the end, it may give us the opportunity to express our views on how the State is serving all Californians, not just the political establishment and their cronies. 

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw