By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Right-wing talk radio, which seethes with resentment of anything Democratic, could play a major role, as could the Internet, along with more traditional means of signature gathering such as street petitioners and direct mail to conservatives.
Yet a recall could receive non-Republican legitimacy simply by nature of the process. For a recall election would be two-fold: yes or no on Davis and a simultaneous election to replace Davis if he is recalled. And unlike the recall, which requires a majority vote to oust the governor, his replacement would be selected by a mere plurality. If no Democrat runs — however regretfully, of course — the governorship would be handed over to the Republicans. The logic of the situation may well dictate Democratic participation in an election which exists to oust a Democratic governor.
The biggest Republican name, moderate action-movie superstar turned initiative promoter Arnold Schwarzenegger, is keeping his distance from the recall. Schwarzenegger ranks with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein as the most popular of California’s political figures. But if a recall qualifies and is not overly tainted by its origins, he or anyone else can file as a candidate.
In the arcane recall process, Davis has until the end of this week to issue a formal statement responding to the notice-of-intent-to-recall petition filed by Costa and Steel, though he need not do so. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, a San Francisco Democrat, then must determine whether there are 65 valid signatures on the petition and whether its language is in accordance with state law. Once that is done, which could be as soon as the end of the month, the gathering of 897,000 valid signatures can begin in earnest. Proponents will have 160 days to get them. If they take the full 160 days allowed by law, the recall election would occur at the same time as the March 2004 primary elections, because state law requires that recalls only occur as special elections if they are certified more than six months before a regularly scheduled election. If the recall qualifies faster than that, then it would be a special election taking place within three months of the recall drive’s signature certification. In either case, candidates can file in the simultaneous election to replace Davis anytime until two months before the election. Which gives Schwarzenegger and potential Democratic candidates months in which to figure out their moves.
Free from the need to raise big money for the first time in 30 years, Davis, California’s all-time champion fund-raiser, has been much more relaxed and accessible than he was during his first term as governor, even in the face of the budget crisis. Ironically, were he to face a recall election, Davis would be free of the state’s new campaign-finance limits. Which means he could again raise unlimited sums.
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