Gray Davis Recall Movement is on a Roll

Buoyed by the financial backing of Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) the drive to get 897,000 signatures to put a question on the California ballot to recall Gov. Gray Davis (D.) now looks like it will succeed.

Longtime California Democratic strategist Bob Mulholland recently told reporters that because Issa “has indicated he’ll put $2 million in . . . he’ll get the signatures.”

Dave Gilliard, who is working with Issa’s “Rescue California” petition campaign, sent a memo to financial backers of the drive indicating that 587,000 signatures had been turned into county registrars of voters as of June 6th. Of those, more than 164,000 had been collected, processed, and submitted by “Rescue California,” which Issa launched last month by contributing $500,000 in seed money. Additional petitions were submitted petitions by, and by supporters of House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R.-Cal.).

The leader of, former Republican Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, told me his group had raised more than $450,000-almost all of it from small donors. He said that people had downloaded petitions from the group’s website a total of 215,000 times. “This is going to happen, possibly sooner than you think,” Kaloogian said enroute to a nationally-televised debate with Davis ally Mulholland on MSNBC’s “Buchanan and Press.”

November or March

Recall proponents had initially hoped to complete their drive by the September 2nd deadline issued by the secretary of state’s office and plan for a recall race likely to coincide with statewide primaries next March. (Under state recall rules, once the secretary of state certifies that the required number of signatures has been submitted, the recall question must be put before the voters within 80 days). But given their success, workers in both the Issa and Kaloogian camps now believe they will be through with collection and verification of signatures by July 4th. That may give them a chance to force the issue onto the November ballot, coinciding with historically low-turnout local elections rather than next year’s Democratic presidential primary.

If a majority of voters says “yes” to recalling Davis, then the top vote-getter on a list of replacement candidates would automatically become governor. If the issue is on the November ballot, rather than the March ballot, Republicans will have a better chance of winning. Issa is essentially already running. Other Republicans considering the race are ’02 loser Bill Simon, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and State Sen. Tom McClintock. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has stated her opposition to the recall campaign, by close observers in California believe Democratic leaders in the state will push her to run if it looks like Davis is going to ousted by a Republican.