Two important topics previously addressed by this column are the propensity of progressives to change elections rules in order to tighten their grip on political power and the question of whether Governor Gavin Newsom’s performance in office warrants his removal via recall.
As to the former, the last several legislative sessions are replete with examples of bills that seek to stack the deck in favor of progressives. Here are some of the highlights:
• Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would flip the meaning of a “yes” vote in a referendum in a confusing manner designed to make referenda more difficult for voters.
• Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 by state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, would allow an officeholder subject to a recall election to also appear on the recall ballot as one of the replacements. This could result in the bizarre outcome of an elected official being recalled and reelected at the same time.
• An effort by state budget officials to fast-track cost estimates required by law. Progressives openly bragged about this manipulation. State Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, wrote in a public tweet: “Best opportunity to beat this reckless recall of @GavinNewsom is to have an early election. . . No reason to delay and give opposition any more running room.”
• A proposal that would give the target of a recall access to the names and addresses of everyone who signed the petition. Thankfully, this Orwellian proposal was too much even for the California Legislature and the bill was shelved.
• An unconstitutional proposal that would ban paid signature gathering, which would only favor the wealthy and entrenched interests.
As the above reveals, progressives have developed “changing the rules in the middle of the game” into an art form. But it appears they’re not done yet. No matter what the outcome of the recall election, the left will move quickly to curtail the power of recall.
Secretary of State Shirley Weber, in a recent interview on CapRadio, claimed that there are “some serious problems” with California’s recall laws and that the entire process deserves “a second look.” Among her complaints were the “low” signature requirement for qualification (as if getting 2 million signatures was easy), no limits on when a recall can take place, and the fact that an alternative candidate can win with less than 50% of the vote.
With all due respect to our Secretary of State, it appears she has a problem with democracy.
Similar complaints were raised by long-time Democratic operative Garry South, who wants four big changes that would all but destroy the people’s ability to use the recall. First, like Weber, he wants a higher signature threshold at 20% to replace the current 12% minimum. He also advocates that a recall should only be allowed for specific “for cause” reasons. (Because corruption and incompetence aren’t good enough?). He also thinks recall proponents should be required to get signatures from at least 25% voters of the same party as the target of the recall and that the filing fee should be raised above the current $4,000. All these proposals are, of course, intended to ensure that no Democratic governor will ever be the subject of a future recall election.
We find it odd that all these complaints about the recall process from progressives were never asserted in Wisconsin when they tried, and failed, to take out Gov. Scott Walker. In 2012, Democrats around the nation were big fans of the people’s right to recall. Funny how things change.
Finally, getting to the substantive issue of the recall itself, back in May we noted that the grounds for recalling Gov. Newsom were growing. Regrettably, the list of particulars against the governor keeps expanding. In fact, proponents of the recall have identified more than 50 ways Newsom has failed to keep faith with the citizens of this state. For taxpayers, these reasons can be distilled into one sad truth: Gov. Newsom has completely abandoned California’s middle class. For that core reason, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Political Action Committee announced last week that we support the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.