Sure Hope California Dems Aren't F*cking Up Recall Election. It's Too Important.
Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

Ballots in California's recall elections are about to start being mailed to every active registered voter in the state, and incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging voters to only vote on the first part of the ballot, which asks whether he should be recalled or not. Newsom told Politico Monday that he'd prefer voters concentrate on voting "No" to the recall, and just leave the second part of the ballot blank instead of choosing one of the 46 candidates to replace him in case the recall goes through. The state Democratic Party also recommended the same thing Tuesday. That's all well and good, as long as a majority of Californians actually vote "No" and keep Newsom in office in the September 14 recall election.

Newsom's team emphasized party unity going into the recall, so no Democrats with any statewide experience are on the ballot. The downside of that strategy, and it feels like a potentially big one, is that if Newsom loses the recall in a squeaker, the lack of credible Democrats on the ballot pretty much cedes the question of who would replace Newsom to the Republicans running against Newsom. Unfortunately, the top-polling Republican candidate, Larry Elder, is a wingnut talk-show host who says racism isn't a problem in the USA anymore.

The Los Angeles Times notes the all-or-nothing approach has some voting experts worried, because the ballot is already confusing enough, what with having to vote "no" if you're in favor of keeping Newsom in office, and voters' not necessarily knowing that they can both vote "no" to the recall but also pick a candidate to replace Newsom in case he is recalled.

"I think it's unfortunate that the Democratic Party is not giving voters any guidance on what to do on the second question," said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. "It's going to leave a lot of people confused."

And should a majority of voters cast ballots to expel Newsom, it could produce a new governor chosen by only a small fraction of the electorate. [...]

"I can understand why people would wonder," Alexander said. "It's a counterintuitive vote."

In the 2003 recall election against then-Gov. Gray Davis, then-Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante ran as a Democratic "backup" choice. He urged voters to keep Davis in office, but also to vote for him on the second part of the ballot, in case of recall. Ultimately, though, Bustamante came in second behind Arnold Schwarzenegger, who got 48.6 percent of the vote. Democrats this time around are betting that emphasizing only the first part of the ballot will ultimately be less confusing than trying to have an "insurance policy" candidate on the ballot.

Also, by law, Newsom can't be listed as one of the candidates, and while there's a write-in option for the second part of the recall ballot, that law also means write-in votes for Newsom won't be counted. Ralph Shaffer, an emeritus history prof at Cal Poly Pomona, recently argued in an op-ed that some prominent Democrat should jump in and become a write-in candidate, just so there's a credible Democratic option if Newsom is recalled. The deadline for filing as a write-in candidate is August 31.

It might help Newsom that none of the candidates on the recall ballot this year have anything close to the broad appeal Schwarzenegger had, says Garry South, who managed Davis's recall campaign:

"The biggest problem was Arnold getting in and galvanizing the recall vote. And the second biggest problem was (Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz) Bustamante getting in," said Democratic consultant Garry South.

"In this current field, there is nobody who can have that kind of impact."

Instead, it'll all come down to turnout: It may help that every active registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail, but so far, Republicans seem to have anti-Newsom enthusiasm working in their favor. Even if rightwing views aren't held by most Californians, the right is really pumped up at the prospect of punishing liberals for being more popular.

If wingnuts do manage to turn that into a successful recall, that could be terrible for California, since Elder leads the fractured anti-Newsom field in most recent polling — even if his polling tops out at around 20 percent. If Newsom is recalled, all any opponent needs to do is get one more vote than the other 45.

Oh, what a train wreck Larry Elder would be!

If elected, Larry Elder would become California's first Black governor, and definitely its most far-right governor since Ronald Reagan, who'd look like a hippie in Birkenstocks — with argyle socks — by comparison.

In July, Elder told LA Times columnist George Skelton that racism in America is actually extinct:

"It is bull— that racism remains a major problem in America," Elder, who would be California's first Black governor, told me.

Sure, he said, there used to be racism in employment and housing, "but not now."

"The big problem" for Black communities, Elder continued, "is the absence of fathers in the home."

But what about mistreatment of Black men by white police, as illustrated in the George Floyd killing?
"Police are more reluctant to pull the trigger on Black people than whites," he contended.

But don't worry, as a wingnut radio talk-show host — whose mentor in the business was loonypants misinformation faucet Dennis Prager — Elder manages to be a complete asshole on many more issues beyond race. He's multifaceted that way. He's absolutely against government doing more than providing information on public health, so you can bet he'd ban mask mandates and eliminate Newsom's recent order that all state employees and healthcare workers either get vaccinated or be tested frequently for COVID.

On his radio show last month, Elder didn't push back when a caller who said she was a gynecologist in Texas fretted that Bill Gates would use coronavirus vaccines to pursue "population control." He actually promoted the episode on YouTube with the tagline "You'll want to hear this physician's take on the vaccines."

Elder has claimed second-hand cigarette smoke isn't all that dangerous and that climate change is a "crock" and a "myth." More recently, he's pretended to take a more reasonable view on climate without actually going so far as to say science is real, telling McClatchy, "I do believe in climate change. I do believe our climate is getting warmer," and even generously adding he thinks "human activity has something to do with it." This is where we point out that's only an accurate statement if you replace "something" with "virtually everything." He said maybe climate has some involvement in California's recent horrific wildfires, but added, "What I don't believe in is climate-change alarmism." Translation: He won't do a thing to pursue California's emissions-reduction goals.

In an interview with the LA Times, Elder made clear he knows the Democratic-supermajority State Assembly would never pass anything he wants, and could override his vetoes, so he's already given a lot of thought to how he might abuse his executive power in ways that might put Donald Trump to shame. He says he would declare a state of emergency in California education, so he could bypass job protections and fire a lot of teachers. Of course, don't ask him for too many troublesome details:

"Someone told me that between 5% and 7% of public school teachers need to be fired," Elder said, adding that an emergency declaration would provide "the power to get rid of bad teachers faster than the system allows." He concluded: "Once you did that, automatically, education would improve overnight."

Because Elder declined to field follow-up questions, it is impossible to know who had advised him on teacher terminations and exactly how he might weed out educators he judged to be underperforming.

Elder also thinks the best solution to California's homelessness crisis would be another emergency order suspending environmental reviews of construction projects, so he could "unleash the developers and contractors who would be able to build low-cost housing and low-cost apartments." Would such a state of emergency only apply to construction of affordable housing? Doesn't seem like he went into detail on that.

Oh yes, and then there are Elder's charming views on women:

In a 2000 column for Capitalism Magazine, Elder asserted that Democrats had an advantage over Republicans because they were supported by women, and "women know less than men about political issues, economics and current events." In the piece, he added that women could be misled because "the less one knows, the easier the manipulation."

More recently, Elder got lots of rightwing laughs with a very funny tweet suggesting that participants in the 2017 Women's March in Washington DC shouldn't be concerned about Donald Trump's fondness for sexually assaulting women, because har har they weren't attractive enough to rape.

Gosh, just think how successful Elder might be if he could troll the libs as governor and not just on the radio, we said as we started day-drinking again.

Here's hoping California Democrats can harness the same energy that turned against Trumpy Republicans in 2018 and 2020.

[LAT / Politico / LAT / CalMatters / Huffpo / LAT / Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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