No Gun Rights Champion In California Recall Election
August 10, 2003
by Joseph P. Tartaro
The California free-for-all gubernatorial recall election has been scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 7.
Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who was narrowly re-elected last November, will be a candidate, of course. In fact, he is the candidate du jour.
There are not likely to be any other Democrats on the ballot. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was seen as a likely winner if Davis is recalled, but she declined to run. In fact, the Democrats realized that they couldnt hope to keep Davis as governor if they offered any other Democrats.
For the Republicans, including US Rep. Darrell Issa, who is largely credited with spearheading and funding the petition drive to force the Davis recall election and is expected to be a candidate, there may be a squad if not a platoon, of candidates, some unnamed as yet, others named but reluctantly approaching the electoral waters. There are also likely to be third party candidates.
How It Works
Heres how the whole thing works.
It started with the formation of a political committee, the Committee to Recall Gov. Davis. They needed a little less than 900,000 valid voter signatures to force the Secretary of State to set an election date.
Some 1.3 million signatures were submitted earlier than required and the California Secretary of State certified that there were sufficient valid signatures in late July, setting Oct. 7 for the special election. Thats when voters who care enough go to the polls will vote first on whether or not to recall Davis. If they vote for the recall, they then will be able to vote for any of the candidates on the ballot, all of whom will not be Davis. He gets his shot at remaining governor on the first part of the ballot.
Speaking of possible candidates, any Gun Week reader resident in California with a few friends and dollars could easily join the candidates for governor. You can qualify by submitting a petition signed by as few as 65 registered voters and paying a $3,500 registration fee. If youve got more friends than dollars, you can also qualify by submitting petitions signed by 10,000 voters, in which case there is no fee to pay. But if you are planning to run, time is running out.
Still, a lot of Republicans are lining up to betlike so many horse racing fanson their favorite GOP dark horse.
Former California college and California and Buffalo, NY, professional football quarterback and ex-US Rep. Jack Kemp was one of those many had hoped to coax into a run. But Kemp declined.
Action-film hero Arnold Schwarzenegger has been getting a lot of notice as a possible GOP candidate to replace Davis, but he seems to be delaying a decision at stage right. Schwarzenegger keeps dodging a final answer pending previous promotional commitments for his latest Terminator flick.
A few issues back, I noted in this column that the strangeness of California politics was creating the possibility of a contest between Schwarzenegger, the Terminator, on the GOP side and Rob Reiner, Meathead, on the Democrat side. Such a contest would be great for the media, but hardly offer serious California voters any real options.
However exciting he may be for the general media, Schwarzenegger may not be far enough out on the right of the stage to satisfy some California conservatives. On July 28, NewsMax.com reported that, The conservative wing of the party doesnt want Schwarzenegger, syndicated talk show host and Fox News commentator Mike Reagan told NewsMax Sunday. Reagan is the son of former president Ronald Reagan and a champion of his fathers conservatism.
Former White House staffer and Republican strategist Ken Khachigian notes that conservatives are already criticizing Schwarzeneggers statement that he was ashamed of his partys attack on former President Bill Clinton during the 1998 impeachment. Schwarzenegger opposed Clintons impeachment.
Popular radio host George Putnam, who airs on Los Angeles KPLS, echoes the sentiments of most conservatives. I love Arnold, Putnam says, but this is not his moment. This is a moment that demands a person steeped in political and economic skills who can save this state.
Theres some sense in the last comment, since the states huge budget deficit and Davis handling of other economics-linked issues is one of the main reasons so many voters signed up for the recall in the first place.
There are plenty of other possible candidates, including Davis principle opponent in the 2002 election, Bill Simon.
Then there is Richard Riordan, the Republican mayor of Los Angeles, who was defeated by Simon in the GOP primary last year, who has announced his intention to run for governor. Riordan represents the aspirations of the liberal wing of the California Republicans who apparently believe they need a Republican candidate who is indistinguishable from the Democratic candidateDavis.
Riordan is said to be very close to Schwarzenegger and to have said hell defer to the Terminator if he runs. Thus, Riordan and Schwarzenegger appear to embrace the more liberal GOP approach, including support for gun controls.
Former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, a Democrat, has said of Schwarzenegger, Hes pro-choice, pro-gay rights. . . . Hes a member of the Kennedy family and some of that, I think, has rubbed off on him.
What do some conservatives think of Schwarzenegger?
Republican consultant Sal Russo told NewsMax, You cannot get elected governor of California today without having a plan to deal with the momentous problems Gray Davis either created or exacerbated. Being a celebrity is not enough.
Without a transition period, it is imperative that the new governor be prepared to govern from day one, Russo said.
White House officials have indicated they would look kindly on a Schwarzenegger candidacy. Karl Rove, President Bushs primary adviser, told The New York Times that Schwarzenegger as California governor would be nice. Really, really nice. Of course, that would help Bush achieve what appears almost impossible at this point: winning California in the 2004 presidential election.
Roves comments pretty well mirror what the Bush camp said about Riordan last year.
The actor has a history with the Bush family, having served as the chairman of the Presidents Council on Sports and Fitness during the first Bush Administration from 1990-92.
But Rove and the White House have been wrong before, tapping Riordan, who was rejected by the party faithful.
Despite polls that indicate Davis would lose in recall vote, many political observers are not rushing to count him out. In fact, many say that he will be able to raise the money necessary for defense of his position, and he will have a lot of heavyweight support.
Whether he can win or not remains to be seen. Neither party so far has shown much smarts about reaching out to segments of the voting public, including unions and Latinos, who could make a difference. And, of course, gunowners are largely ignored by both parties chief strategists.
Into this political porridge, the Drudge Report has dropped still another ingredient.
Former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Clinton will inject themselves into the historic California recall battle, the Drudge Report exclusive predicted, as Democrats vow to fight to the finish to retain the states governorship.
The Clintons and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe plan to reinforce a theme of Republicans undoing and undermining election results, like they did in Florida, a well-placed source in Washington told the Drudge Report.
Whatever happens on Oct. 7, gunowners, who would like to see Davis recalled, are unlikely to find a champion of their rights among the other potential winners with the exception of Issa.
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