California’s Democratic Pols Want to Gut the Recall Law
Steven Greenhut writes that California “has morphed from a land of limitless opportunity to a highly regulated land of limits and control.” The change has prompted an exodus of people from the state, which will result in its first-ever loss of a congressional district.
“You’ll rarely hear a state leader talk about opportunity—or admit that California has been actively chasing people away,” Greenhut says. And while the state will remain very pretty, and a nice place to live, it will only be so “for those who already have achieved their dreams.”
“The weather’s nice,” he says, “but the political climate is chilling—even if the governor remains in denial.”
The governor – Gavin Newsom – isn’t the only one in denial. Newsom is facing a recall election in the fall. While California has only had one successful gubernatorial recall in its history – of Democrat Gray Davis in 2003 – the state’s political class and its backers are mulling ways to make sure recalls are even rarer in the future, arguing that the current effort is a partisan hatchet job that undermines democracy:
…some California Democrats now talking openly about making fundamental changes to the recall law—an idea rarely discussed since Governor Hiram Johnson, a Progressive icon, pushed it through the legislature in 1911. “This thing is going to be defeated by Newsom pretty handily,” says the Democratic strategist Garry South, who was the chief adviser to Davis in his two gubernatorial races, in 1998 and 2002. “And when this is all over, the legislature has to take a serious look at revamping the processes and procedures for qualifying a recall against the governor of California.”
Given Democrats’ dominance of state government, the votes are presumably there to make whatever sort of changes a handful of grandees may desire. That neutering recall, or perhaps gutting that other political nuisance, initiative, and referendum, would be high-handed and anti-democratic makes no difference. If the pols want it, they should get it (voters be damned).
The more reasonable would be finding out why people turned to recall in the first place. Team Newsom doesn’t have to like recall backers, let alone agree with them. But a bit of self-reflection – admittedly a tall order for Newsom – would be better than destroying a century-old means of keeping the politicians honest.