Sacramento, Cal.-The talk at the California Republican Party convention here last week centered around the move to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and elect a replacement using a unique provision in California law.
Four months after he was re-elected by an unimpressive margin of 47% to 42% over Republican Bill Simon, Davis is sporting a disapproval rating of 72%.
His surge in unpopularity derives from his misstatement of the state’s deficit. Before the November election, Davis said it was $25 billion and could be serviced. After the election, he announced it was actually $34.6 billion and required increasing taxes.
Rally at Capital
On December 30, talk show host Melanie Morgan of San Francisco’s conservative KSFO radio station suggested that Davis be recalled. There was a massive caller response. The RecallGrayDavis.com committee then was formed by conservative former State Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian (R.-San Diego).
During the convention, a recall rally attracted 300-400 participants to the steps of the state capital. Republican State Sen. Tom McClintock, Morgan, Kaloogian, and out-going state GOP Chairman Shawn Steel all spoke.
At Steel’s urging, the state GOP convention endorsed the recall movement. Veteran political consultant Sal Russo, who is advising RecallGrayDavis.com, said “Our website has been on-line for less than a month and so far has 2 million hits.”
Under California’s Constitution, “For a recall of a statewide officer, a petition must be signed by registered voters equal in number to 12% of the last vote for the office. Signatures must be obtained from at least five different counties and must be equal in number to at least one per cent of the last vote for office in each of the five counties.”
Since a record low (44%) of California voters cast ballots in the last election, Kaloogian explained, 12% of the ballots equals only 897,158 signatures. On February 21, the “recall-istas” submitted a proposed petition to Democratic Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, which, subject to his approval of its form and wording, will start a clock ticking. Proponents will then have 160 days to gather signatures, the sufficiency of which Shelley’s office must verify.
If the signatures are sufficient, under the state Constitution, “The election shall be held not less than 88 nor more than 125 days after the issuance of the order” and “the recall election shall be held on the same day and consolidated with the regular or special election.” Recall proponents are aiming for the November ballot.
If they get on, voters will be asked simultaneously to recall Davis and choose his successor. Should a majority vote to remove Davis, continues the Constitution, “the candidate who receives the highest number of votes is the successor to the unexpired term of the recalled officer.” It will take only 65 signatures to place a candidate on the ballot to replace Davis.
“Democrats such as [Lieutenant Governor] Cruz Bustamante and [Attorney General] Bill Lockyer, and [State Treasurer] Phil Angelides would be pretty uncomfortable [putting their names on the ballot],” said Steel. “Do they say ‘we’re supporting Gray’ and, in the same breath, say ‘but if you recall him, we’re on the ballot and want to be governor?’ Republicans all agree that Davis must go and won’t have that problem.”
As to which Republican he and the party organization favor-Simon, McClintock, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger are all mentioned-Steel said, “I can’t endorse and I’m just concentrating on gathering signatures for the recall and providing the intellectual case that Davis must go.”