Requiem for a Recall



By Richard Eber

Last week the ultra liberal blog Politico quoted Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) “It’s not Gavin who’s on the ballot — it’s California.”   They went on to say “.” That’s one reason why leading Democrats say that the party should put all hands on deck, now, to stand by him. “

As it turns out Khanna is right.  The proposed recall of Gavin Newsom is for a variety of reasons.  Without the bogyman Donald Trump no longer around to blame for all that ails us, attention is being drawn to Newsom’s sketchy record being CEO of the Golden State.

This comes as little surprise considering Newsom’s executive experience in politics the past two decades.  As mayor San Francisco he was in charge of a city that was awash with money from a thriving tourist and convention trade. Property taxes were coming in by the bushel loads as Corporations built skyscraper headquarters to run their companies.

Taking advantage of this prosperity Newsom pushed forward a Progressive agenda of promoting gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, and giving  city workers some of the best pay packages in the country.  He received nominal opposition locally because there were ample resources to fund everything.

In running for Lt. Governor Newsom used his popularity in progressive political circles to easily win this post.  Once in office he continued to emphasize social issues while beginning his campaign to succeed Jerry Brown as Governor from virtually the first day he arrived in Sacramento.

Newsom’s strategy worked very well.  With virtually nothing to do as Lt. Governor, he could concentrate on building up an image of being a leader of liberalism while Brown dealt with the business of running the State.  With pretty much a Seinfeldesque unblemished record of doing nothing, Newsom easily won the election in 2018 over Republican John Cox from Illinois; who had never held any political office in the past.

Once he became Governor, Newsom’s strategy was pretty much the same he had used to reach his lofty position. By being a champion of social justice, opposing Donald Trump at every opportunity, and raising taxes to fund lavish spending, Newsom was riding the gravy train that he hoped would one day land him in the White House.

Much like Gray Davis, who was recalled as Governor in 2003, Newsom did not challenge powerful political allies that supported him in the past.   Examples included:

  • Avoiding much needed pension reform of government employees by propping up CalPERS to meet their current  obligations by placing surplus funds totaling 3  billion to boast their balance sheet in 2019
  • Allocated so called “dead money” to support the continued construction of Bullet Train This project can be charitably called a union boondoggle. It will never be a viable option replacing cars or air transport in the future.  This is one of many programs Newsom has funded to support the unpopular Green New Deal.
  • Increasing taxes on business and individuals while companies  flee to greener pastures taking high paying jobs with them.
  • Endorsing a failed housing agenda in the Legislature which has hindered rather than helped increase inventory of affordable residential units.  Making matters worse Newsom has supported the unpopular policy of eliminating the single family home in favor of stack and pack developments  adjacent to mass transit systems people aren’t fully utilizing
  • Newsom’s support for Sanctuary Cities which has drained billions from the State’s treasury to subsidize undocumented residents from South of the border.  While the past prosperity of the State glossed over these expenditures, a failing economy in California will put the State’s immigration policies to the test later this year
  • Rising crime rates that are partially  caused by releasing dangerous felons from prison, a growing homeless population in the Cities,  and not prosecuting criminal offenses as in the past. A residential burglary or two can lead to NIMBY movement in a hurry to not defund law enforcement agencies.
  • Inept environmental policies giving in to special interests that have raised energy and housing costs to among the highest in the nation.  At the same time little has been done to increase water storage or deal with preventing wild fires.
  • A failed education system which has resulted in one of the poorest rated programs  in the entire country.  This has been augmented by Newsom caving into the California Teachers Association’s  (CTA) demands before returning kids to the classroom to resume their education.

While all of the chronic problems listed above are not of his doing,  as Governor Newsom has to take responsibility for fixing what is wrong.  He must take leadership rather than being the “empty suit” leader of promoting  social justice issues.  With California’s budget headed for disaster this year, he will need to make some hard decisions while facing an inevitable recall.

Even with a partial Federal bailout, California cannot sustain operating with such a bloated budget and inefficient agencies that reek or corruption.  We have the California Employment Development Department scandal giving 30 billion dollars of bogus benefits to criminals while failing to process legitimate claims.  Throwing in the incompetence of the DMV, administering Covid-19 vaccines, and the inability to deal with homelessness, Newsom has his hands full.

On top of being able to cut budgets and say “no” to lobbyists and special interests, the Governor will need to rehabilitate his image as being a leader for the people to follow.  .  Newsom will have to overcome the bad publicity received attending the infamous dinner at the French Laundry; while at the same time killing small businesses with restrictive Covid-19 measures.

Taking this all into account playing the point spread of dealing with the upcoming recall campaign,  Newsom faces an uphill battle to retain his post.

Much will depend on what the Republican Party will offer voters to replace him.  Thus far no one has stepped forward to take on the role that Arnold Schwarzenegger filled to become a viable alternative to Gray Davis back in 2003. If the electorate is faced with choosing between Newsom and an unpopular candidate such as John Cox, they will likely gag and wait a year before finding a new executive to lead them.

One thing is for certain.  Ro Khanna’s words “It’s not Gavin who’s on the ballot — it’s California.”, is a requiem for a recall in 2021.

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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1 month ago

Good for you Mr. Eber. You pointed out why I signed the petition for recall! Even though John Cox is an unknown he certainly cannot be any worse than Newsolini and probably a whole lot better.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
1 month ago

And now THE question:

Had Newsom NOT ordered the shutdowns, mask orders or inhumane isolation protocols in hospitals and nursing homes, would there still be a recall petition?

(Not defending Newsom btw).