When カリフォルニア granted its voters the ability to recall a sitting governor, 戻って 1911, それは、彼らが人々に奉仕しているという、資格のある選出された役人に厳しいリマインダーを提供することを意味しました, その逆ではありません.
The reality, でも, has been a lot less edifying.
Californians have voted in a governor recall election only once, に 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger unseated the unpopular Democratic incumbent Gray Davis. Both then, and now as Gavin Newsom finds himself against the ropes, the process has been driven by showbiz carnival barking and partisan sound and fury as much as it has by the high-minded democratic ideals of the Progressive Era.
Last time, より多い 250 people applied to run, そして 135 of them ended up on the ballot, including a porn star, a 100-year-old woman sponsored by a discount store, a bounty hunter, a sumo wrestler, the Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt (WHO, in a wheelchair, said he’d prefer to be paralyzed from the neck down than paralyzed, like Davis, from the neck up), and the former child actor Gary Coleman.
It didn’t help that the election rules, which had gone untested for close to a century, virtually guaranteed a freak show of candidates and platforms lured by a low entry bar and the promise of a single winner-take-all contest. With no requirement to win the support of a majority of the voters, the foreshortened campaign season was primed to reward attention-seeking over substance.
Schwarzenegger himself reveled in the circus atmosphere, telling the late-night TV host Jay Leno as he announced his candidacy that it was the toughest decision he’d made since going for a bikini wax in 1978. He showed up to only one debate and spent considerably more energy recycling well-worn lines from Terminator movies than he did articulating policy positions.
Schwarzenegger enjoyed frontrunner status from the get-go, and at the time that served to conceal a deeper truth: that the recall election offered a backdoor for the Republican party to attain statewide office in a solid blue state that had otherwise largely shut them out. The recall was initiated by a group of conservative tax protesters upset over rising budget deficits, but the party quickly took control of the process and pushed it in a different direction – to take power first and figure out what to do with it only after.
Davis was a colorless, relatively unpopular establishment politician whom the 共和党員 nevertheless couldn’t beat when he ran for re-election in November 2002. When the budget crisis of early 2003 gave critics an opening to collect recall signatures, しかしながら, he suddenly looked a lot more vulnerable.
Republican party leaders understood they needed to stir up just enough popular resentment against the political establishment to keep the governor below 50% in the recall election. それで, the concurrent replacement vote would put the incumbent party, the Democrats, at a distinct disadvantage, with Davis excluded by definition and no other heavyweight Democrat wanting to risk looking disloyal to him.
The Republicans ran this playbook to perfection.
Many senior Democrats begged Senator Dianne Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, to run in the replacement race so they’d have a viable alternative to the Schwarzenegger celebrity juggernaut. But Feinstein demurred, leaving the lightweight lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, as the last Democrat standing. Davis lost the recall by more than 10 ポイント, and Schwarzenegger trounced Bustamante by a similar margin.
We can’t be completely sure yet what to expect in 2021, because recall petition signatories have until 8 June to withdraw their names if they wish. If their number dips below 1.5m from more than 1.6m confirmed last week by the California secretary of state’s office, unlikely as it seems, the recall will be off again.
Only after 8 June are the floodgates of multiple candidacies likely to open. それでも, the media are already feasting on the fact that Caitlyn Jenner, the trans former Olympic athlete and step-parent to the Kardashians, is running as a populist celebrity Republican. 彼女の first ad positions her as a “compassionate disrupter” in the Schwarzenegger mould, but many political analysts see her, それよりも, as a torchbearer for Donald Trump in a state that preferred Joe Biden for president by a staggering 29 ポイント.
Jenner has yet to attain anything close to frontrunner status, and she may not even be the strongest Republican in the race – a title that probably goes, for now, to the more conventional and more centrist former San Diego mayor, Kevin Faulconer.
But Jenner’s early entry suggests once again that California Republicans who know they can’t reach 50% in a conventional statewide race will milk the opportunity for all it is worth.
The party is banking once again on fuming resentment against the Democrats in Sacramento – a “throw out the bums!” mentality fueled by the frustrations of the Covid-19 pandemic, economic crisis, homelessness and other social ills.
Even if the Republicans succeed, でも, it’s unclear how strong a mandate they can claim. Schwarzenegger did not reach 50% of the vote but he came very close, with a more than respectable 48.6%. The Republican contenders so far, でも, seem unlikely to meet that bar, in large part because Republican support in California has dropped significantly in the intervening 18 年. John Cox, a perennial losing Republican candidate in California statewide races now running again, won 38% of the vote to Newsom’s 62% の中に 2018 gubernatorial election. That same dismal 38% could easily see him, or Faulconer, or Jenner claim the governor’s office in a winner-take-all recall.
Such realities have inevitably, triggered impassioned debate about the meaning of “popular government” as defined by California’s 1911 constitution. The concern of many good government groups, as well as Democrats keen to retain their monopoly grip on California’s statewide offices, is that a process designed to be an honest check on abuse of power has instead become an orgy of special-interest maneuvering and stealth politics by a minority party. (Very similar criticisms surface regularly about California’s ballot initiative process, another brainchild of the Progressive Era, which often degenerates into a slugfest between well-financed corporate interests and much poorer non-profit advocates who have to rely on guerrilla PR tactics and positive media coverage to fight back.)
On the other side of the ledger, plenty of observers think that a recall, even one as messy and colorful as the 2003 ドラマ, is a sign of democratic health and believe that voters are more than capable of sorting out which candidates are viable and which are not.
Jerry Brown, who served as the California governor in the 1970s and 1980s and ultimately returned to the job in 2010, 記憶に残る told a television interviewer に 2003 that it was easy to overstate the importance of experience. “I’ve been there, I can tell you what it is," 彼は言った. “It’s not like, ええと, fixing a complicated airplane engine. It takes some intelligence. It takes common sense. It takes some character, some understanding and concern about what is needed by California. And there are a lot of people that can do that.”
That spirit of reaction against an entitled political class clearly prevailed 18 数年前. Whether voters will take the same attitude now, given the mixed results of the Schwarzenegger governorship and the deep unpopularity of the Trump presidency with its “I alone can fix it” mantra is another matter.
Gray Davis was ultimately undone by time – his poll numbers kept worsening from the time the recall qualified for the ballot until election day. Newsom, 一方, has time on his side. At the height of the pandemic last winter he found himself in significant difficulty, harangued by reports that his children were attending private school in person while most California public schools remained closed and that he had whooped it up at Napa Valley’s pre-eminent luxury restaurant, the French Laundry, in defiance of his own lockdown rules.
今, でも, the pandemic has eased, the vaccine rollout has gained steam, public school students are returning to their classrooms, and the economy is recovering. ザ・ most recent polls suggest Newsom will survive the recall with relative ease. The election, しかしながら, is unlikely to take place before October or November, which leaves plenty of time for new things to go wrong. Drought, wildfires, a resurgence of the pandemic – all are eminently possible in the state where disaster movies were invented.
Schwarzenegger himself counts both Newsom and Jenner as friends – making him an unusually conciliatory Trump-era Republican, but his attitude to the recall is unequivocal. “I hope as many people as possible are jumping into the race," 彼 言った the late night host Jimmy Kimmel last week. “Anyone has a chance, because I think the people are dissatisfied with what is going on here in California.”