Since this thread isn’t (really) about the justification of the Grey Davis recall, I’ll avoid trying to argue with the statements that wendya has made concerning the “policies and the legislation he signed” (aside from noting that he only signed that legislation that the California legislature passed. He didn’t invent nor pass the legislation, and the same legislators will also give Arnold bills to sign. If he doesn’t sign them, they will most likely overturn his veto, so I don’t know what that will really accomplish).
Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.
Anyways, as much as I agree with the sentiment of the original post concerning the very poor precendent this sets, I believe that circumstances were unique in California, such that this is not a very serious threat to the rest of the country.
First of all, as far as the President is concerned, there is no such thing as a recall; no law exists allowing any kind of recall of President or Congress so that can’t happen to Bush.
In California, we were unlucky enough to have an extremely dire economic crisis and an extremely unpopular Governor at the same time, combined with a millionnaire dedicated enough to put up over a million dollars of his own money to make it happen. I doubt these circumstances will align themselves in any other state.
The economic crisis: California used to have a huge surplus, now it has a huge deficit. As the Grey Davis campaign ads pointed out, California’s situation is only a fraction of the similar problem the Federal Government has, and has weathered the current national economic conditions better than many other states. California is the victim of energy policies that everyone will agree cost millions or billions of dollars, yet no one has placed the “blame” for this on anyone. Sure, everyone has their favorite boogeyman to blame for this, whether it be the greedy energy companies, or the Cheney-backed energy companies, or Grey Davis’s incompetence in dealing with this or whatever, but my point is that since no one can reasonably or effectively pinpoint how this problem got as bad as it did, it is very easy to blame whoever you like. I am not an expert in these matters, but this is my understanding of the situation.
The unpopular Governor: Grey Davis was never “loved” by everyone, or even all Democrats. He is a soft-spoken, uncharismatic (boring) career politician, who worked his way up the ladder. Similar (in my opinion) to the way a president like Polk got nominated after none of the really popular candidates could get a majority, Davis took advantage of a primary system like most around the country where the popular candidates kind of cancel themselves out, and the acceptable second choice makes it to the top. He ran for re-election against a Republican candidate many considered very flawed, and it was surprising to me how little Davis won by. Most Democrats didn’t like him very much. A candidate like Bill Clinton can win because even though all republicans hated him vehemenently, enough Democrats really loved him and enough independent voters liked him to give him election victories. Davis was never liked by anybody!
And lastly, Darryl Issa is a republican self-styled “kingpin-maker” who took it upon himself to fund the effort to recall Davis. He started the process very shortly after Davis won reelection, paying millions to workers to stand outside grocery stores and drug stores to collect signatures asking for the recall election. The law in California is that 12% of the number of voters in the previous Governor election are needed to get a recall on the ballot. That took a lot of money to pay a lot of people to collect signatures. Given the manpower (paid by one person, not a grassroots organization or any such thing), I don’t think it would be hard to get 12% of any population to sign a petition to recall anyone. Enginerd points out, for example, that in Nevada the Governor was “overwhelmingly elected to a second term” by 68% of the vote. That means 32% voted against him! Add to that all the people who didn’t vote at all, but would willingly sign a petition to get anyone out of office, and I think that if someone paid enough people to collect signatures in Nevada even a popular Governor could face a recall by getting just 12% of the electorate to sign a petition in passing. Of course, there would be probably no chance that he would be voted out, but that’s a different question. Probably no one would spend that kind of money if they didn’t think they could succeed, so it is doubtful anyone will attempt this anywhere else.
In the case of California, many thought that should this recall succeed, we would soon push through a recall of the new Governor. The reasons this was proposed (again, IMHO) is because the way the california recall law is set up, there was two recall questions on the ballot. First is yes or no on the recall itself. Second was if the recall succeeds (if more people vote yes on the first question than no) then who should the new Governor be? Of any candidate who qualified to be on the ballot, the one with the most votes would be the new Governor. Since there were over 130 candidates on the ballot, it was easy to envision that the one candidate with the most votes could have maybe only 10 or 20% of the total vote, yet still be the new Governor. Since many thought the voter turnout would be less than the normal election, it was also easy to anticipate that the number of signatures neede to force a new recall would be much less that for this one. And of course most (if not all) Democrats, whether they liked Davis or not, would be anxious for retaliation against a new Republican Governor.
I don’t think any of these things came to pass. The voter turnout (as wendya pointed out) was HIGHER than the last election, so the signatures needed for another recall will be more than were needed this time. And Arnold didn’t win with a small percentage of the votes, the last statistics I saw had Arnold getting about 49% of all the votes! In fact, Arnold received more votes than people voting No on the recall, so he got more votes than Davis did! (This is really an unfair comparison, as many people who voted no on recall also voted for Arnold, but given a choice between the two on their own would obviously have voted for Davis as they voted no on the recall; but this still sounds good anyway) I think everyone will at least give him a chance, and unless he does something really horrific, I would doubt that we will see another recall election in California anytime in the near future.