RECALL: THE PEOPLE, THE MATH, THE SUBVERSION OF DEMOCRACY, THE BAD MOVIES, AND THE HOT 20-SOMETHINGS...
I've been lagging behind in terms of talking about the Davis recall. So let's do so in a relatively scattershot fashion!
BOLD TFM PREDICTION: No scenario will arise in which the recall election results in a Republican governor taking office.
Why not? Simply because Democrats outnumber Republicans, registration-wise, by a significant margin in the state, and with the media frenzy around the recall continuing to grow, Republican hopes of low turnout will likely be dashed. Besides, California's higher Republicans (in more ways than one, if they think they can win, hehe) have egos the size of Yosemite, and I don't mean Sam. Riordan, Issa, Simon and McClintock are all likely to run, and with the cramped campaign period, it is unlikely that three, two, or even one of them will drop out. Even without the Democrats' advantage in registration, the Republican candidates will split the vote too much, and California's statehouse will remain in liberal hands. (er, Davis counts, I suppose)
As I see it, the Republicans have one, and only one hope, in the recall ballot itself. The ballot is, of course, a two-part contraption: First, you vote whether or not you want to recall Governor Davis from office, and then, regardless of how you voted in the first question
, you choose from the list of candidates (now around 120, wow!) the one you want to become the new governor, should the "yes" vote in question one reach more than 50%. This is monstrously important. Even if you vote not to recall Davis, your vote as to his potential successor will be counted. In the blogosphere and elsewhere, I've read some people who aren't completely clear on this, and if us too-much-time-on-our-hands net-heads don't have it straight, imagine the "average" California voters. The NAACP, for example, is currently challenging the recall election for just that reason, the possibility that many voters will be ill-informed about the voting process. And again, Republicans find themselves in a position to benefit from a lack of knowledge and/or a confusing ballot (remind you of something?). If a voter is under the impression that by voting no on the first question he/she has no say in the second question, that certainly benefits those who support the recall, don't it?
WHAT DO I THINK OF DAVIS, ANYWAY? I'm not a big fan of his, really. Recall opponents are almost obliged to preface their comments with "I'm no fan of Gray, but...", in a similar way to how anti-war liberals are obliged to say "Saddam's an evil man, but...". I certainly appreciate Gray as governor a lot more than ol' Barbed Wire Pete or Simple Simon. But what I think of him is not the point. It doesn't matter if I'm pro-Gray, but it does
matter that I'm anti-recall, and I'm anti-this
recall. Reasons? First off, we just had an election a matter of months ago, and Davis won, fair and square. Do the Republicans want a do-over or something? That's simply not how the democratic process works, dudes. Secondly, shouldn't the institution of recall elections be better reserved for when lawmakers engage in some sort of actual wrongdoing? Why recall someone for reasons of scoring cheap political points? Even if the recall election resulted in a Republican governor, I'm sure the Democratically-held Legislature and Senate will just roll over for him after such tactics were used, right? Thirdly (and I've seen this point made elsewhere too), not only would this recall take place only months after the previous election, subverting democracy, it is also inherently undemocratic. Let's do the math:
Let's say in question #1, whether Davis should be recalled, the results are:
Yay recall -- 52%
Boo recall -- 48%
That means Davis would no longer be governor, essentially picking up 48% of the vote.
Now let's say in question #2, despite the long odds, a Republican wins a plurality
of the vote, which is all that is required to win. The voting might look something like this:
Darrell Issa -- 24%
Arianna Huffington -- 16%
Richard Riordan -- 13%
Georgy Russell -- 9% (see below)
(and so on...)
(note: i'm being charitable here; the winning plurality in the second ballot could even end up being under 20%)
In this scenario, Congressman Darrell "Hotwire" Issa, the man with the money behind the recall effort, becomes our new governor. Keep in mind, it is thoroughly unlikely that a large number of people would both vote against the recall and vote for Issa as the new governor. Virtually all of Issa's support in the second ballot will come from among the 52% who voted for the recall.
So in essence, the shares of the vote would be:
Gray Davis -- 48%
Darrell Issa -- 24%
(2nd note: there will, however, be some overlap between liberal candidates like Huffington & Georgy, and no-votes in the first ballot)
That's right, we could see a situation where Issa (or Arnold, or Riordan, or McClintock, or others) register only half of the support (and votes
) gained by Davis, yet become governor anyway. That's
No wonder Drudge
is reporting that Bill and Hillary plan to come to Cali to speak out against the recall. They've seen subversion of democracy like this before, in an impeachment over things that were none of our collective business. They should call up Al and Tipper, who've seen just as vicious an operation carried out against them.
In the end, I don't think Davis will need them. If he is good at anything, he is a great fighter and survivor. It is likely that he will survive this effort. He was puppet-master supreme in last year's election, getting empty-headed California Repubs to think that Bill Simon was more electable than a popular, centrist, pro-choice mayor with a pretty good record.
BUT TFM! YOU HAVEN'T EVEN MENTIONED AHH-NULD YET! Well, I did say his name earlier. He's not going to run. He's too chummy with Riordan to get in his way (and Dick is known for having quite a big . . . head). And there's too much about his past (and his present) that would render him unelectable (though it would certainly qualify him for the "Kennedy status" he thought he was receiving through his marriage). And there are those wholesome movies, too. Aside from the ones that give us the all-Arabs-are-crazy-terrorists feel (read: True Lies
), there are the stinkers we'll always remember. (to quote Wiggum: "Magic ticket my ass!")
IS THERE A CANDIDATE YOU LIKE, TFM? Obviously, I'll be voting against the recall, but I'll have plenty of candidates to choose from in question #2 (though I believe Davis will not be recalled). Either it's Arianna, if she throws her hybrid in the ring (yay!), or it's the lovely Georgy Russell
, a sharp, cute, 26-yearold Berkeley grad and Democrat. 26? She looks about 17 in her picture
. Though judging by her keyboard, she probably backs President Clinton's workplace ergonomic standards, you know, the ones Bush overturned.
PARTING THOUGHTS? Well, while anyone enjoys a big media circus like this is going to be, it's bound to take focus away from both A) the WMD issue and B) the momentum of the Democratic presidential candidates. The half-full way of looking at it is, perhaps the focus on the recall will illuminate how anti-democratic the proponents of ousting Davis are being, and combined with impeachment and Florida, will paint a pretty picture for the greater American public. We'll see...
For solid coverage of the situation as it develops, check out the Sacramento Bee's recall page
, as well as the blog of Beeman Daniel Weintraub
"I'll be back"