It’s real. Sometime this fall, there will be a special election in which voters will be asked if they want to “remove” Governor Gavin Newsom from office.
The recall effort qualified for the ballot by collecting more than 1.6 million signatures from registered California voters. The special election hasn’t been set yet, and until a few weeks ago, most people didn’t think it would qualify. In fact, the “summon” appears to have infiltrated both the governor and the media.
Signing a large number of voters on a petition should be a wake-up call for any politician. There are states that don’t even have 1.6 million voters. But in California, only many are willing to sign a petition to summon a governor.
Until January, the recall efforts had not attracted much media attention. For his part, the governor ignored the attempt to summon him as well, not bothering to send a legal representative to challenge a court case to extend the time allowed for collecting signatures.
If you attend public schools in California, and take a class in state history or political science, you will know that California is what is known as a “initiative, plebiscite, and recall” state.
We’ve been this way for over a century. If you vote in California, you are voting in a state where citizens can bypass the state legislature through the initiative process, which makes politicians accountable to voters in a more direct manner.
The initiative process was part of a “progressive” political movement that swept California after the Great Earthquake of 1906. The residents, most likely, blamed in part on modest and corrupt local politicians a lack of preparedness that contributed to the firestorm that erupted after the 1906 earthquake. Building the city of San Francisco, the political structure of California was also rebuilt.
Recalls have been part of the political fabric of California since 1911. In fact, there have been 179 such efforts statewide alone. The current effort to summon Newsom is thus part of a long history of holding citizens accountable to politicians.
It is also a grassroots/non-partisan effort as well. Yes, Marin GOP helped collect signatures, but we got involved late in the game and deserve no special blame or consideration for our small efforts.
This is just about Newsom and the state of California. Some of those who signed the petition to subpoena Newsom are registered Democrats. We know this because many of the people who walked into our offices in January to sign the petition wanted us to know they were Democrats. They did not like the Republican Party, but they hated the governor and his behavior even more.
So, the question voters will face when they vote to retain or recall Newsom sometime over the next few months will be fairly straightforward.
Is Newsom’s ruling in the best interests of California? Do we want a governor to dine in the French Laundry with lobbyists during the pandemic while scolding ordinary citizens who only want to meet with relatives for Thanksgiving dinner? Do we want to let Newsom turn this into a partisan issue?
Perhaps everything in Sacramento is partisan, but for those of us who live more locally, it seems clear that Californians of all political persuasions believe that our golden state deserves the best. And in a country like ours, the voter should always deserve to be heard.
Tom Montgomery is the deputy and chief financial officer for the Marin County Republican Central Committee.
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