The campaign to recall California Governor Gray Davis may succeed, admit a growing number of California Democrats. Daniel Borenstein of the Contra Costa Times reports that “the state Democratic Party mouthpiece, Bob Mulholland, predicted last week that Republicans would gather the necessary 897,158 valid signatures to qualify the recall for a statewide vote.” The website Davis Recall.com reports “426,664 signatures to goal,” with “91 days to go.”
Davis is sufficiently scared that he has regrouped his old campaign team, reports the Los Angeles Times on Monday’s front page. That means Garry South is back, and even Chris Lehane, Al Gore’s infamous spinner. Lehane, recall-minded Californians should note, served as a flak for Davis during his self-inflicted electricity crisis. Davis paid Lehane with tax dollars until public attention forced him to stop. Lehane is, then, a particularly astute selection for Davis’s recall-defense team.
Steve Smith, the state’s labor secretary, has taken a “leave of absence” to “lead the new committee set up to save Davis,” reports the Times. The name of the committee is appropriately ludicrous: “Taxpayers Against the Governor’s Recall.”
Taxpayers want to save Davis’s political career? Taxpayers would like to end it. Especially now as Davis plans for an $8 billion tax hike, an idea he opposed until he was safely reelected. Taxpayers now face a $38 billion deficit, thanks to Davis’s incompetence, excessive spending (36% increase in spending), and miscellaneous corruption.
The latest Times poll has Davis’s job approval rating at 27%. Davis feebly argues that a special election would squander taxpayer dollars, a curious complaint from someone not having counted them too strictly before. The Times reports that his supporters estimate that a special election will cost $25 million. That’s a pretty abstemious day for Davis. He and his cronies have squandered not millions but billions.
Garry South calls the recall effort “political egomania.” South and Davis are above this sort of thing. Such is their commitment to pristine politics that they have hired “circulators” to sabotage the recall drive.
Reports the Sacramento Bee: “Kimball Petition Management Inc., a Southern California firm already paying circulators to collect signatures for a banking privacy initiative, has been tapped to organize the anti-recall signature gathering.
“The firm is authorized to pay $1 per signature collected, 25 cents more than last week’s going rate paid by Rescue California.
“‘It’s being used to try to tie up the professional petition circulators so that they won’t work on this recall,’ said Tom Bader, who is directing signature gathering for Rescue California. ‘It’s just shameless.’”
Meanwhile, some Democrats are circling Davis’s political corpse. They would like to see U.S Senator Dianne Feinstein replace him. “I believe a recall election can be appropriate when serious malfeasance and corruption is found,” Feinstein wrote in an opinion piece quoted by the Sacramento Bee. “But I don’t believe it is right to overturn the results of an election simply because of political differences.”
Does this mean she won’t place her name on a recall ballot? No. Her spokesman Howard Gantman told the Bee, “I cannot address hypotheticals. Senator Feinstein does not choose to address hypotheticals.” Not exactly a vote of confidence for Davis.
“A recall is supposed to be for some abuse of office — ‘Something outrageous has happened and we have to recall him,’” Davis is quoted as saying. His use of the state government as a campaign cash register — so thoroughly documented last year in the endless stories about jobs, contracts and appointments doled out to donors — certainly qualifies as an abuse of office.
Governor Hiram Johnson instituted the recall power in the early twentieth century for use against graft-ridden hacks like Davis. Johnson, by the way, was a Republican. He belonged to the Lincoln-Roosevelt League, a reform society that took aim at the Davises of its day.