The main participants in the California recall election brought in reinforcements yesterday, as Arnold Schwarzenegger brought in Warren Buffett as his economic director, and Bill Clinton came on board as Gray Davis’ virtual campaign manager.
The hiring of Buffett can’t be seen as good news. While he is a brilliant investor–the key to his philosophy, I think, is that he always does the exact opposite of whatever I’m doing–he is equally a contrarian when it comes to politics. Buffett is a liberal Democrat who, I’m afraid, will squeeze any conservative ideas out of Arnold’s program.
Whether Clinton can help Davis much is debatable. Davis’ main strength, fund raising, is also Clinton’s forte. Dick Morris says that trying to help Davis is like “throwing a life preserver to a man who is already dead.” Morris predicts that shortly before the election, Democrats will persuade Davis to step down, leaving Lt. Gov. Bustamante in charge and cancelling the election.
I doubt it. This maneuver would anger many Californians, and the closer to the election it happens, the worse would be the fallout. Bustamante is a man of limited ability and no known boldness, and his remaining term would be an unenviable experience if he took office under such circumstances. My bigger concern is that the Democrats have created the situation they hoped for: only one Democrat running, Bustamante, against at least three strong Republican candidates. Given the predominance of Democrats in California, this could be too steep a hill for Arnold to climb, especially if his campaign disappoints California’s conservatives, the heart of the Republican Party there. As the hiring of Buffett suggests that it will.
UPDATE: The Trunk points out that, while there has been speculation that Davis may resign and thereby defeat the recall effort, California election law appears reasonably clear that the recall election would still go forward, with Bustamante now being recalled instead of Davis. Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee has written extensively on this. If this reading of the statutes is correct, and I think it is, there doesn’t appear to be any way for the Democrats to stave off the election, and therefore it is hard to see any reason why Davis would resign.
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