California Dreaming

My conservative cousin from New York moved to California a few years ago — in other words, out of the frying pan and into the fire when it comes to state governance. He reports on the effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom:

Today I received in the mail a request from the California Republican Party to sign an enclosed petition to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. Together with my wife, we signed and returned the petition.

Over one million Golden State residents have called for Newsom’s removal. To put the question of removal on the ballot requires 1 1/2 million valid signatures by March 17th. Proponents believe they need 2 million signatures to make up for all the ones likely rejected during the review process. Unlike mail-in ballots for the November election, recall petitions are subject to strict scrutiny.

The question of recall could well make it to the ballot and result in, of all things, a GOP Governor for what is considered one of the bluest states in the Union. Newsom’s handling of the Wuhan Virus has been disappointing. The last straw for many was the dinner he held for close associates at Napa’s swanky French Laundry restaurant after lecturing Californians about the dangers of dining with mixed households. Prolonged school closings and scandal surrounding the sending of unemployment checks to prison inmates are among the issues stoking anger at Newsom.

Once recall is put in motion, two separate elections will be held simultaneously. First, voters will decide whether Newsom should be recalled. Then, they will be asked whom they want to be Newsom’s successor if he is recalled.

Requirements for getting on the ballot to succeed Newsom are quite lax. You need only 65 valid signatures and $3,500.

California Democrats are divided along identity politics lines. When Newsom appointed Secretary of State Alex Padilla to succeed Kamala Harris in the Senate, San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the selection “a real blow to the African American community”. Asians, Afro-Americans, Latinex & LBGTQ activists will doubtlessly clamor for their group to be represented on the ballot.

In this environment if the GOP could coalesce around a credible candidate like former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, they could win the election against a fractured Democratic party. Faulconer has already formed an exploratory committee for a possible Gubernatorial run.

Conservative sentiment may be more widespread in California than generally believed. In the recent election, conservative arguments prevailed at the polls on propositions dealing with Affirmative Action, rent controls, abolishing cash bail as well as changing Uber drivers and other app based workers from contractors to employees.

Other deep Blue states – Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont – have GOP Governors. But gaining the Chief Executive’s chair in the nation’s largest state would be a real shot in the arm to GOP morale after the loss of the Presidency and Senate.

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