RecallPosted: August 24, 2021
Like Communist China, California is a one party state. The party is the Democratic party. The Democratic party has 60 out of the 79 Assembly seats, 30 out of the 39 Senate seats. Both our senators are in the Democratic party. The last time a Senate seat opened up, with the retirement of Barbara Boxer (D), the Democratic Party more or less met and decided Kamala Harris, the state attorney general and former San Francisco DA, would get that, and Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, would get to be governor after Jerry Brown (D), who had been governor off and on, and whose father Pat (D) was also governor, finally retired. This corrupt bargain angered other state Democratic wannabe stars, like former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, but that’s the breaks.
Why does San Francisco hold such a disproportionate weight vs Los Angeles in our state’s politics? I’m not sure, maybe because the fundraisers up there are particularly influential, or because every LA politician gets caught in some kind of scandal, or maybe because who would want to leave Los Angeles to go to Sacramento? It’s not exactly an upgrade.
We did have Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who won in a recall election. He was a Republican, but with an admirable pragmatism he established a working relationship with the Democratic leaders in the legislatures and governed more or less as a centrist. Some Hayes or Matt Stoller types may quibble with that interpretation of recent California history, but that’s how it felt.
When a case like Schwarzenegger emerges, a popular independentish candidate not developed in a party machine, it can create some of the more effective governance in the country. Jesse Ventura in Minnesota another example, the electorate more or less content with the outcomes which reflect something like the average opinions rather than any cobbled together set of party priorities. Although I guess Trump would also be an example of this, and I don’t think anyone can claim his presidency was especially effective, nor did it bring about widespread contentment. The leading insurgent candidate this time seems to be Larry Elder, is a Republican-aligned radio host. I had not heard of him until the election, so I do not think he is quite famous enough to prevail, but we’ll see.
Gavin Newsom, our current governor, is a pretty boy wine seller and restauranteur from the San Francisco area who hung around with the Getty boys and apparently pleased the rich people of San Francisco enough that they made him mayor. Now he is the governor. During the tough statewide shutdown triggered by the pandemic, a shutdown that caused many businesses to suffer and many to die, Gavin Newsom could not resist going to a dinner at French Laundry, which is one of the most expensive and indulgent restaurants in the world. The dinner at French Laundry was also, it turned out, the birthday party of a lobbyist. His behavior is so preposterous and embarrassing Gavin Newsom is lucky he isn’t getting tarred and feathered and run out of California on a rail.
But, instead of tar and feather and a rail, we are having a recall election.
I just voted in the recall. I voted NO, not because I like Gavin Newsom, but because the alternatives are horrible, and because I think recalls are a huge waste of time and money. If Newsom just barely survives, escaping by the skin of his teeth, that would be a pleasing outcome for me.
No one can really gin up much passion for Gavin Newsom at the moment without sounding ridiculous. The arguments on behalf of the anti recall campaign are so deflating as to be comical.
Catastrophic? There are multiple fires bigger than cities burning in our state, and in our biggest cities there are many enormous tent encampments of unhoused people. How much worse can it get?
How many elections are going to be existential? All of them, from now on? That is too stressful!
One of our senators here in California, Diane Feinstein, is 88 years old (you read that right). An age where she shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car let alone be a senator. It’s not openly discussed, but it is closedly discussed, that she is demented and can’t remember who is who, let alone details about complex legislation. So, an argument for Newsom has emerged that’s like, “you must keep our terrible governor so that he can appoint the replacement for our demented senator!”
For me, this argument is not merely uninspiring, it’s so depressing a concept that you have to laugh that here’s what we’ve come to. If that’s why the election is important, then it’s difficult to believe that your participation is important. This is in California, a state that’s gifted at producing world class talent! How did we end up with this?
It’s important not to just be a cynic here. I have spoken with people who have encountered Gavin Newsom and came to like him, the gist being that it seemed like he was listening to them. The job of governing California is not easy, under the conditions of the pandemic choices had to be made that would make people very unhappy. If you don’t like your options in public life, you have no one to blame but yourself. Let’s give some credit to the man in the arena, even if he appears to be a shiny faced self-dealing psychopath.
The ballot is kind of weird. You vote yes or no on whether Newsom should be recalled, and then you also can vote on one of 46 candidates to replace Newsom if he is recalled.
The recall ballot will ask two questions: 1) do you want to recall Governor Newsom? and 2) If the governor is recalled, who do you want to replace him
The candidates include actress / Corvette driver Angelyne and trans woman/ vehicular manslaughterer Caitlyn Jenner.
The Truth Squad Palm Card the California Democratic Party makes available tells you to vote NO, but then doesn’t tell you which of the other candidates to vote for. There’s been some online discussion of what to do about that, with some fanatics arguing you shouldn’t bother voting for a possible replacement candidate, because it might be confusing (to your own mind?)
In the last recall election, the Democrats had a backstop candidate, Cruz Bustamante, and the possibility of replacing Gray Davis with that guy apparently lured some Democratically inclined voters to vote for the recall. Thus, the Democratic Party doesn’t even want you considering the possibility Newsom would be recalled.
Since it is very possible Newsom will be recalled, and since some of the possible replacements are terrible, I felt I should vote for one of the replacement candidates. After sparse research, I chose Brandon Ross. Here is an interview with him where he says nothing I really object to:
Q: Why should Gov. Gavin Newsom be recalled?
A: I don’t necessarily think Gov. Newsome should be recalled. He was elected by a more than 3-2 margin over his challenger in the last election and he hasn’t done enough wrong to warrant being recalled. He has made some mistakes, but this is essentially a Republican effort to overturn the results of the last election because the party did not like the outcome.
His life story is interesting:
Dr. Ross attended the University of California, Davis, and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Genetics. He would go on to medical school and become a doctor while simultaneously attaining his Masters in Public Health and his Masters in Business Administration.
Following graduation, he established a thriving cosmetic surgery center; everything seemed as though it was falling into place.
But after a serious back injury, Ross grew dependent on narcotics to manage his pain. The need for relief would soon devolve into opiate addiction, which led him to some of the darkest moments in his life.
As a result of his addiction, he lost a successful marriage, his family, and a thriving career.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. In 2014, Dr. Ross entered a recovery program that helped him turn his life around.
After getting clean, Dr. Ross graduated from law school and rebuilt his medical practice better than it was before. He also regained custody of his children, rebuilt his family, and is leading a fulfilling life. He now runs a charity that offers free cosmetic surgery to children dealing with trauma and radiation treatments for brain tumors.
I think the chance of Newsom being recalled and Dr. Brandon Ross being elected is close to 0%.
People telling me how to vote on one thing after another and how important it all is has gotten to be grating. I won’t be doing that here, I am merely telling my own ballot journey.
Good luck to everyone involved!