You may have heard that the fruits and nuts of California are trying to recall our governor, Gavin Newsom. As a current fruit and nut of this state, I recently received my mail-in ballot and was faced with a decision. Should I vote to recall the bastard, or has the poor son-of-a-bitch been unfairly maligned?
Californians have a reputation for recalling our governors, which might be slightly exaggerated. True, we did replace Governor Davis with the Terminator back in 2003. But in the entire history of the United States, only four gubernatorial recall elections have ever been held, including the current one.
The first occurred in 1921, when North Dakota governor Lynn Frazier was booted out of office. The second involved the termination of California’s Gray Davis, by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in 2003. The third occurred in Wisconsin, in 2012, where Governor Scott Walker barely held onto power by the skin of his scummy teeth.
And now we are in our fourth. Only 20 states allow their governors to be recalled, by the way. Although California has only held two such elections (including the current one), we probably have the record for most attempts.
The fun and games began in 1960, when we tried to recall Governor Pat Brown (Jerry Brown’s father). No California governor since then has escaped a recall attempt. In all of California history, there have been 54 attempts at giving our various governors the hook. And in fact, the current recall election is the seventh attempt at firing Gavin Newsom. The previous six petitions were initiated during the first year he held office. They fell far short of the signatures needed to hold an election. But the seventh apparently was the charm.
Newsom has complained that Donald Trump is behind all this political punching. But no, Trump went over a whole year without even commenting on it, and we all know how hard it is for Mr. Orangehair to keep his mouth shut.
Some may have the impression that this petition began as a response to harsh Covid restrictions. But no, this petition was born on February 20, 2020, weeks before diktats and mandates overset the lives and livelihoods of Californians.
Petition #7 began as a boring sequel to prior, failed recall petitions, with the usual laundry list of Republican gripes concerning illegal immigration, water rationing, high taxes, over-regulation, etc. Covid wasn’t even mentioned.
And the petition went nowhere, fast.
In California, the amount of signatures required to force a recall election is 12% of the votes cast in the prior election. This meant that 1,495,709 signatures were required. And all of those signatures had to be gathered by November 17, 2020.
And so, the race was on. By August 2020, a paltry 55,000 signatures had been gathered. Uh, not such a promising pace for six months of trying to convince masked and paranoid passers-by to stop and sign a political document.
Then it seems the movement to unseat Newsom fell into despair, as a hopeless cause, because over the next three months, only 890 additional signatures were gleaned from our state population of nearly 40 million fruits and nuts.
But then November 5th rolled around. This was a day that will live in infamy. At least in the mind of our guppy-eyed governor. On this fateful day, die-hard proponents of the petition, who were obviously gluttons for punishment, went to court and argued for more time to pursue their quixotic request for signatures. They complained that Covid restrictions had severely hampered their efforts.
The judge shrugged insouciantly, as if to say, “sure, what the hell, what harm could it do?” and agreed, giving the petition-pushers four more months, until March 17, 2021, to find anyone else willing to scrawl their name against the governor.
That very evening, our clueless Governor Newsom decided to take his wife out to a friend’s birthday dinner. Yes, the same Governor Newsom who had been shutting down restaurants and telling people to stay home. Yes, the same governor who had actually recommended, just weeks before, that if you must dine at a restaurant that has managed to stay open, be sure to wear your mask at all times, except during those brief moments when you’re shoveling food into your mouth.
Yes, that governor.
The restaurant he dined at is called The French Laundry. That’s an odd name for a restaurant, but perhaps patrons receive complementary dry-cleaning with their dinner. I’ve heard that it’s a very high-brow joint, costing diners hundreds of dollars for a meal. Geez, at those prices there had better be free dry-cleaning.
He dined with about a dozen bigwigs, in spite of all his warnings and mandates to avoid large gatherings. One of those in attendance was the CEO of the California Medical Association, and another was its head lobbyist. It’s strange that these medicos seemed to have had no concern about Covid. And all were maskless, including the governor.
It was a loud, raucous gathering, drawing attention from other diners, and leading the restaurant staff to close large, sliding glass doors, to block the noise. Closing these doors effectively turned their semi-outdoor dining experience into a completely indoor dining experience.
Soon, word leaked to the press about this stain upon all things holy and Covid-restrictive. And our Laundry-dining governor quickly went into spin cycle. He got on TV and issued a rambling, mealy-mouthed apology, which you can watch for your amusement or agitation, by clicking this link, or clicking the YouTube video, below.
In his speech, the governor defensively apologized. He stated that he’d only taken his wife out to dinner two times before, during the pandemic, as if to excuse his behavior as something understandable in the light of such a paucity of dining out. And he also asserted that the dining had occurred outside.
Unbeknownst to the gov, an alert French Laundry patron had pulled out her cell phone and taken pictures. A few days after his apology, these pictures emerged on FOX News, airing out the governor’s dirty laundry. They depicted an indoor dining event, not an outdoor event as the governor had claimed. And this indicated that he had been lying on camera, and was not at all sincere in his apology.
This was the last straw for Californians who’d already had enough of heavy-handed Covid restrictions. Many of us were outraged over the governor’s gross hypocrisy and feigned sincerity, and over the next month the floundering recall petition was revivified. It soared in popularity, garnering a whopping 442,000 new signatures by early December.
And by the time the revised deadline of March 17, 2021, had rolled around, the recall campaign had gathered the signatures of 2,117,730 incensed and disgruntled Californians. About a quarter of the signatories were Democrats and Independents.
This was more than enough to trigger a recall election, even after a few hundred thousand signatures were disqualified for the usual, expected reasons. And now it’s upon the California voters. The official election date is September 14th. Recent polling has given Governor Newsom about a 50-50 chance of surviving this recall.
The ballot is in two parts. The front-side asks the voter if the governor should be recalled. The flip-side asks the voter who should replace the governor if he is recalled, and provides a list of 47 candidates to choose from.
Caitlyn Jenner is one of the choices, but the heavy favorite is Larry Elder. He’s an African-American conservative radio talk show host. He is popular among California Republicans, and could inspire a widespread conservative election turnout.
In 2019, Governor Newsom signed a bill allowing targets in a recall election to state their party preference on the ballot. But he failed to take advantage of this law that he, himself had signed, and missed the deadline to state his own party preference. And so, the recall ballot simply lists his name, with no party preference after it. This is not the best way to appeal to your base.
Newsom’s bumbling days in office may be numbered. But we’ll have to see. This election will be a nail-biter. But win or lose, hopefully this will be a lesson to all politicians, regardless of political party:
Don’t push. Get out in front and lead by example. Avoid hypocrisy. Be straightforward with the people who put you in power, and respect that at least a few of them possess intelligence and a sense of fairness. We have shown that we can tolerate some hypocrisy from our politicians. But what we find hard to tolerate is the outrageous levels of hypocrisy, arrogance, and insincerity displayed by our governor, Gavin Newsom.