California encore enters final stages with little excitement and drama
The recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom was clearly focused on Saturday, but with little frenzy and national spotlight that nearly two decades ago sparked the political earthquake that ushered in Arnold Schwarzenegger in power.
The provisional slate of candidates revealed by state election officials appeared to do little to change the dynamics of the race, where a group comprised mostly of Republicans face an uphill battle to topple Newsom in a solidly Democratic state, at least. for the moment.
“With the exception of the ‘Godfather’ films, the sequel is never as good as the original,” said Dan Schnur, who teaches political communication at USC and UC Berkeley. “We have already done this. In 2003, it was an unprecedented political event.
State election officials announced on Saturday evening that 41 candidates had filed valid documents and met other conditions to be on the recall ballot to replace Newsom, kicking off the final phase of the campaign ahead of the September 14 election. Secretary of State Shirley Weber will release a certified list of names that will appear on the ballot on Wednesday.
This is a far cry from the then government’s 2003 recall election. Gray Davis, a media show where 135 candidates appeared on the ballot in a campaign that gained worldwide attention.
The current recall did not capture the public imagination like the previous one. Political pundits say it’s because this effort seems less likely to be successful and lacks the novelty of California’s first gubernatorial recall. While there are two reality stars in contention, there is no candidate of Schwarzenegger’s stature. The most famous contestant in the race, Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, took to Australia to film a reality TV show shortly before the filing deadline.
Recall supporters argue the race is closer than it looks in public polls and proudly highlight the GOP group of 21 candidates, which includes 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox, the former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Former Rep. Doug Ose, Assembly Member Kevin Kiley and Jenner. Conservative radio host Larry Elder, who said he filed papers to introduce himself, was not on the state’s list. His campaign is against it.
“Our campaign submitted all documents required by the Secretary of State and Los Angeles County Registrar of Electors on Friday afternoon, shortly before the two offices close,” Elder’s campaign said in a statement. . “We expect Larry Elder to be on the final certified list of candidates. “
The candidates will bring different constituencies to the polls which will be united in their support for Newsom’s recall, said Anne Hyde Dunsmore, campaign manager for Rescue California, one of the main supporters of the recall.
“I like that people have choices, and I think that’s what they needed from the start. Republicans come in shapes and colors and sizes, and so do Democrats, ”she said. “They don’t overlap at all. Caitlyn Jenner isn’t taking anyone away from John Cox.
Based on the numbers alone, Newsom has little to worry about at the moment. In addition to polls showing voters oppose the recall, Democrats have a 22 point advantage over Republicans in voter registration, and the anti-recall campaign has raised more than $ 28 million, more that all the candidates of the GOP together.
Previous recall efforts failed to garner enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but that effort qualified after supporters of the recall were given an additional four months to collect signatures due to the pandemic, and they were able to exploit voters’ frustration with school and economic closures due to COVID 19. Newsom also made mistakes, like attending a lobbyist’s birthday dinner without a mask with a group of people in a exclusive Napa Valley restaurant as he told Californians to avoid such gatherings.
Supporters of the recall are counting on the enthusiasm gap to bolster their efforts in the election. Polls show Republicans are more energetic and motivated to vote on the recall than Democrats, and they believe disgruntled Democrats and voters with no party preference will also vote in favor of the recall.
Democrats recognize the need to make sure Newsom supporters actually drop the mail-in ballots that are sent home or go to the polls and vote.
“Let me clarify something: if Democrats don’t vote, California will end up with a Trumpian governor,” tweeted Steve Smith, spokesperson for the California Labor Foundation. “Forget to advance ANY progressive policy. I see a lot of apathy from Democrats who think the recall is going to fail. It must stop. Like now. Take nothing for granted. “
The anti-recall committee, the state party and the unions plan to use their money and members to spend the next eight weeks reaching out to voters.
Nathan Click, a spokesperson for the anti-recall effort, said they already had 1,000 volunteers using an SMS platform to reach over 2 million Democratic voters every week.
“Our campaign is all about motivating these Democrats, telling them what’s at stake, who is behind the recall, the Republican forces behind,” Click said, adding that the people behind the recall want to eliminate control over guns and environmental laws and are anti-immigrant. “That’s what’s at stake, and that’s what we’ll be spending a lot of time explaining and discussing with voters over the next couple of months.”
Republicans are debating whether to allow the state’s GOP to approve a candidate, a proposal that is causing friction between party leaders, who say the party needs to influence the race, and grassroots activists, who believe the process is rigged to favor Faulconer, a party establishment favorite, including parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy.
On Friday, the party’s rules committee will consider a proposed settlement that would require a recall candidate seeking approval to collect 200 delegates’ signatures to be considered. The party’s executive committee will review it the next day, and if the effort is successful, delegates will virtually meet on August 7 to vote on an endorsement.
“We are a political party, and it is too important of a race for a special election to stand aside and not at least give our delegates the opportunity to support,” the party spokeswoman said, Ellie Hockenbury.
Ose said that while he would be able to meet the delegate threshold, the proposal is insulting to the party base because the signature requirement could block some lesser-known candidates.
“We should never forget that we are Republicans vying for the office in California. When we say at the grassroots that they don’t matter, that’s a fundamentally flawed approach, ”he said. “But that’s what’s going on here.”
Newsom’s campaign erred in failing to file documents that would have allowed his Democratic Party designation to appear on the ballot. But they won a major victory by persuading prominent Democrats to stay out of the race.
However, eight Democrats have filed documents to qualify for the ballot. The best known is personal finance influencer Kevin Paffrath – or “Meet Kevin” as he is known on YouTube, where he has over 1.6 million followers.
The Ventura-based real estate broker said he had no qualms about challenging a fellow Democrat.
“I don’t think that makes me anti-Democrat,” Paffrath said, adding that he believed all Californians, regardless of their political party, should vote for the recall because “there is no way that Governor Newsom be the answer. “
“I come without any sort of political background,” he said. “I’m not beholden to any political agent or anything.”
Not having a major Democratic candidate on the ballot is a precarious strategy for Democrats – if the recall is successful, the next governor will almost certainly be a Republican.
“The odds are overwhelmingly in Newsom’s favor in this election. But not allowing another Democrat to participate in the poll is an extraordinary risk, ”said Schnur. “All it takes is one unexpected turn in a low voter turnout and Democrats are left with no back down plan at all.”
Newsom was able to use the benefits of incumbency to support his campaign. A windfall in tax revenue has enabled Newsom and the Legislative Democrats to send $ 600 stimulus checks to millions of Californians, whom rivals have dubbed a “reminder rebate.”
At times the imagery has been surreal: At Universal Studios Hollywood, the Governor was joined by Optimus Prime and the Minions as he chose the winners of the $ 1.5 million grand prize in a lottery for Californians who had been vaccinated. At another vaccine lottery event, he selected the winners to receive $ 50,000 while standing in a game show-like setting with a lotto ball dispenser, prize wheel and a drop of confetti.
But a lot could happen in the next eight weeks, especially with the pandemic. The infectiousness of the new Delta variant and rising hospitalization rates have prompted Los Angeles County and others to back down and require everyone to wear face masks indoors in public, including vaccinated people.
There is also confusion over whether children will have to wear masks to school next year, and the prospect of a brutal wildfire season and potential power outages.
“Newsom is under this huge microscope, with a lot of turned plates at the end of sticks right now that could fall before this election,” said Rob Stutzman, a seasoned GOP strategist who worked on Schwarzenegger’s successful campaign during the recall. from 2003. “He has all the power in the world, but he also has all the responsibilities in the world.”