Part I: California’s Recall Election Is A…

We humans like to have choices.

We may not always like making choices, but we like having choices.

In our country, we have lots of choices.

From which used car company to buy from, to which boutique beer to sample, to do-you-want-fries-with-that – we have choices.

And in California, where we’re hosting a gubernatorial recall on September 14…

We have lots of choices.

I recently received my Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet in the mail, and it lists all the people who are running to replace Governor Gavin Newsom.

There are 46 people who are running to replace Governor Gavin Newsom:

An overwhelming number.

Our current governor, Gavin Newson, is a Democrat and as expected, many of those running again him are Republicans.  But there are also Democrats, Libertarians, candidates who identify their party preference as Green, and at least a half-dozen who identify “None” as their party preference.

I’ve also received my ballot in the mail, and it’s so long I could use if for an awning over my front door:

But I won’t, because I’m going to use it to vote.

And therein lies the rub.

Our choices are:

Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?

We vote “Yes” or “No.”

If we vote “Yes,” we’re then supposed to select one from that list of 46…

Candidates to succeed Gavin Newsom as Governor if he is recalled

That’s pretty straightforward.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

If we vote “No,” we’re maybe also supposed to select from that list of 46…

Candidates to succeed Gavin Newsom as Governor if he is recalled

Depending on who you listen to.

The governor and the Democratic Party are telling voters not to respond to that second question:

The article said,

“California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks said in a tweet that leaving the second question blank will save voters time, energy, self-respect and ‘from casting your vote for a candidate who isn’t worthy of your support – or the support of California voters.’”

Hmmm.

Other experts are telling us yes – even if we vote against the recall, we should respond to that second question:

According to the article, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said,

“Even if you vote no, you should pick a person, because you would still want to have input into who becomes the governor.”

So if the recall part of this process gets a majority, the governor is out.  Of those 46 candidates, says the Examiner article’s author, 

“…the winner is not one who gets a substantial majority, but just plus one vote or more.”

“…a new person can be instated by a margin of a single vote or more.  Think about that for a moment.  A solitary extra vote could determine the fate of the largest economy in the United States and the fifth largest economy in the world.”

It’s a very scary idea. 

And it’s a very badly done process – one single vote, and this candidate could be our new governor?

This is Billboard Queen Angelyne, who describes herself as a “gorgeous blonde with big boobs.”  An LA Magazine article about her included this exchange:

LA Magazine:  What are your hot button issues?
Angelyne:  Hot button?!  Ooh! (squeals)

Just a single vote could make her governor.

Now, there are many who are calling for a revamping of the whole recall process:

And clearly, this is needed.

But it will be too little, and too late, for our September 14 election.

I know I’ll vote against recalling the governor, but then – do I do what the California Democratic Party says, and not answer the second question about who should replace Newsom?

And if I do answer that second question, who gets my vote, out of those 46?

OK:  45 candidates.  I’m fairly certain I can eliminate Angelyne.

But who?

To help with that decision, on August 15, the San Diego Union-Tribune began a series of Q&A articles focusing on six of the candidates whom the newspaper described as having “better fundraising and poll results.”

Five are Republicans, and one a Democrat.  In the August 15 article, each candidate’s article leads with a quote.  What I read was so unoriginal, so predictable, and so cookie-cutter, I was not encouraged:

“Time for an outsider to get it done.”
John Cox, Republican businessman and accountant.

“We need a governor, not a tyrant.”
Larry Elder, Republican talk show host and author.

“I can fulfill our promise.”
Kevin Faulconer, Republican former mayor of San Diego.

“Recall will restore integrity.”
Kevin Kiley, Republican state Assembly member.

“Newsom not up to the challenge.”
Doug Ose, Republican former congressman and small business owner.

“We need someone to be honest.”
Kevin Paffrath, Democrat, YouTube personality

Hmmm.

On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t cross Angelyne off the list. 

In that LA Magazine article, at least she showed some originality when asked why she wanted to run for governor:

“When I was little I wanted to rule the universe but I wanted to make sure everybody was happy.  Who wants to be the ruler of a bunch of sad sacks?”

And as for the one Democrat in the Union-Tribune article, Kevin Paffrath?

CNBC and a number of other media outlets are saying this about him:

And it wouldn’t be the first time Californians have elected a media “star” as governor.  Remember these guys?

In a different article, Paffrath broke with the governor and other Democrats over that second ballot question about choosing a Newsom replacement:

“No matter who Californians support, Paffrath encourages everyone not to ‘squander’ their vote and to weigh in on both of the questions that will be on the ballot.

“If Democrats don’t make both choices, Paffrath noted, they’ll be letting only Republicans and no party preference select the next governor.”

Hmmm.

This seems as good a time as any to recall how the recall hot mess got started.

According to a Union-Tribune article earlier this month, “Many saw the recall as a smear of Newsom by bitter supporters of defeated Donald Trump.”

I’d amend that to “bitter, rich supporters of defeated Donald Trump,” since the recall supporter list of Trump fans includes, to name just a few:

  • John Kruger gave $500,000; he opposed Newsom’s restriction on indoor worship during the pandemic.
  • Geoff Palmer gave $200,000; he donated $5 million to Trump’s 2016 election.
  • Douglas Leone gave $99,800; he gave $50,000 to support Trump in 2020.
  • Susan and Howard Groff gave $75,000; they gave more than $500,000 to support Trump in 2020.
  • Dixon Doll gave $100,000; he’s a longtime GOP donor.

Then, according to the CNBC article above,

“The recall effort picked up momentum during the pandemic as frustration mounted about the state’s shutdown of schools and small businesses, and the slow pace of the reopening even as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations plummeted.

“Newsom critics pounced at the opportunity to highlight the worsening homeless problem and increasing crime rates while taxes and living costs remained among the highest in the country.”

And, back in November 2020, this added fuel to the recall fire: 

Newsom’s boneheaded behavior, now infamous, of appearing – maskless – at a dinner party at the posh French Laundry restaurant, as he was telling the rest of us to mask up and practice social distancing.

So infamous, the incident even made it into a skit on Saturday Night Live:

Alex Moffatt plays Newsom on “Saturday Night Live.”

The Newsom recall has morphed into a one-size-fits-all, “Whether you’re unhappy about the pandemic or high taxes or homelessness or crime or immigration or gun laws or the bullet train or the unemployment fraud or wildfires, or your just plain pissed off that Trump lost in 2020 – it’s all Newsom’s fault, so let’s recall him!”

And speaking of just plain pissed off, I am, when I read about the cost to us taxpayers for the recall.  Estimates are running as high as this:

And some of that cost – in addition to the Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet and the ever-so-lengthy ballot – is for this:

This 33-page, 8” x 10” booklet was mailed to around 22 million registered voters in California.  It includes “Recall Replacement Candidate Statements,” some of which are lengthy, and some of which are somewhat less enlightening:

“Leadership for a brighter tomorrow.”
Holly L. Baade, Democrat

“Can you dig it?”
Dan Kapelovitz, Green Party

“Love U.”
Adam Papagan, no party preference

Is it any wonder that the Sacrament Bee newspaper opined,

“We think the motley list of Newsom’s challengers are unprepared, uninformed, dangerous or all of the above.” 

And if the recall is a Republic power grab – as some suggest – and if they manage to get a Republican elected to replace Newsom, how much do they think their new governor will get done in a state as blue as California with a legislature that looks like this:

As the Union-Tribune said,

“Such a governor would have no grounds to claim any sort of mandate and would find it difficult to lead.”

Now, let’s go back to where we started: 

We humans like to have choices.

The first ballot question is an easy choice for me:  Do I want Newsom recalled?

No.

As for the second question – choosing Newsom’s replacement – first I must choose if I’ll vote on that.

Then, if I choose to vote – for which of the 46 candidates?

I like having choices.

But I won’t like making this choice.

And speaking of media “stars,” in summary, here’s my “Statement” – to all those responsible for this situation:

Up next: Wednesday, Part II

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