Thursday, June 24, 2021

Virginia: Signatures being collected against Virginia Senate President

Signatures are being collected against Virginia Senate President Pro Tempore and  State Senator Louise Lucas (D) over complaints that she asked police to refrain from arresting protestors over the confederate monument in Portsmouth. Lucas and 18 others were charged with crimes by the police chief, but the charges were thrown out and the police chief was fired.

Petitioners say they have 4651 signatures, which could be enough (they need 10% of 46500 votes). I'm wondering how a recall effort on the state level will hold up in court.

North Dakota: Petitions approved against Governor and Lt. Governor

Petitions have been approved for a recall against Governor Doug Burgum (R) and Lt. Governor Brent Sanford (R). The issue seems to be complaints about the government's steps to fight the coronavirus pandemic, with complaints about being "not free" or "under bondage" for the mask mandates. Lead petitioner is Michael Coachman, who previously ran for Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor and Governor. Petitioners would need 89,464 signatures to get on the ballot.

Colorado: Buckhorn Valley Metropolitan District Board Members recall set for June 29

A recall against Gypsum's Buckhorn Valley Metropolitan District Number 2 (BVMD) President John Hill, Anna Maria Ray, David Garton, Jr. and Scott Green (a fifth seat is open) has been scheduled for June 29. Petitioners needed about 300 signatures to get on the ballot (40 percent of voters). They handed in 378. 

The issue is developer control of the community (petitioners claim the developers of the area have too much control of the board and its decisions). The cost seems to be about $65,000-$70,000.

Maryland: Recall effort threatened against Baltimore City Council members

A former Republican Baltimore Mayoral Candidate, Pastor Shannon Wright, is collecting signatures to use try for a recall against Mayor Brandon Scott, City Council President Nick Mosby, City Council Education Committee head Robert Stokes and Councilman Ryan Dorsey. The rules seem to require 75% of council members approve the effort. It's not clear if there is an actual petition or just an online one. 

California: Newsom Recall is a go; 43 verified signatures removed

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) recall is a go, with only 43 verified signers of the original petition asking to have their signatures removed. Petitioners needed 1495,709 signatures and got 1719900 valids. We now move to the next stage of the process and see if the push to schedule the recall soon happens. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Washington: Judge deciding on potential Bridgeport Council recall effort

Hearings are being held on the effort to recall five Bridgeport City Council members over claims of negligence in filing annual financial reports. Unfortunately, the story doesn't mention the council members' names, but the current Council members are Matthew Schuh, Mike Bjornstad, Jacqueline Hentges, Esiquio Martinez and Sergio Orozco (no word on a recall against Mayor Janet Conklin). Washington is a Malfeasance Standard state, so the judges has to decided if the claims are enough to get a recall on the ballot. Additionally, four members are facing elections in November, which may hit the grace period preventing a recall from occurring. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Wisconsin: Former LT. Governor looking to run in 2022 election

Former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R), who survived a recall vote along with Governor Scott Walker in 2012 (and lost in the 2018 third term attempt, is now looking to challenge Governor Tony Evers (D). And, well, no surprises here if the recall helped her out.

Arizona: Recall effort against House Speaker over pandemic shutdown fails to due lack of page attached to petitions

The recall effort against Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers (R) has failed with petitioners handing in about 24,500 signatures, but failed to staple a recall application to each petition sheet, resulting in them all being thrown out. It should be noted that the Arizona Supreme Court has previously ruled (during the Senator Russell Pearce recall in 2011) that Arizona's recall must be treated with a more lenient "substantial compliance" standard rather than a strict compliance one. No idea if that could come into play if there is an appeal. It may not matter, as they need 22,331 signatures by June 17, which would need a surprisingly low reject rate.  

The recall effort was undertaken by a rightwing group over not calling a special session during the Coronavirus pandemic (presumably to overturn the governor's shutdown procedures) and the "failure to protect the integrity of the 2020 election" by a group looking to overturn the results of the election.


California: Petitions taken out against Elk Grove Unified School District trustee

Petitions have been taken out against Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Nancy Chaires Espinoza over complaints about school reopenings following the coronavirus pandemic. Petitioners need more than 18,700 signatures by November 17.

Malaysia: Coalition for Clean and Fair Election stages mock recall

 The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections is staging a mock recall and more here.

Washington: Gubernatorial Recall dismissed, Inslee expresses concern on moves to "relitigate" elections

A Washington State Superior Court has rejected the latest effort to recall Governor Jay Inslee over steps he took to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Inslee also took a shot at the effort: “I think all of us are concerned about efforts that are ongoing to relitigate elections.” Inlsee stated, “We ought to be concerned about ongoing efforts not to accept election results. I hope we can have elections and follow them.”

Friday, June 18, 2021

California: More discussion of Newsom recall date; First ad campaign out; "Seismic" changes in California helps Newsom

Election officials are concerned that an early recall date (before mid-September) could greatly increase the cost of the recall. 

A look at how California is changing by party

Newsom runs his first ads

Michigan: Chelsea School Board President facing petitions

Chelsea School Board President Kristin Van Reesema is facing a recall effort after not holding a meeting to increase in person learning to 20 hours in March. Petitioners claim that the school lost about $800,000 in funding due to the vote. 


Maine: Portland Charter Commission member recall shot down by City Attorney

The recall effort against Portland Charter Commission member Nasreen Sheikh-Yousef (at-large) has been rejected by the City Attorney. The City Charter recall is only applicable for city councilors and school board members, with a year grace period for the end of the term. State law allows recalls for muncipal officials, but only under a malfeasance standard of being convicted of a crime against the municipality. 

The recall threat was after Sheikh-Yousef called the City Manager (who is stepping down next spring) a white supremacist in a tweet right after winning election on June 8. 

Oregon: Second State Senator facing recall effort over showing up to vote on gun control bill

Oregon State Senator Lynn Findley (R) is facing a recall effort led by gun ownership supporters for a fairly new reason. Findley strongly opposed a gun control bill that would mandate storage requirements for guns, ban guns from the state capitol and allow schools and universities to adopt their own gun bans. However, was one of only six Republicans to attend the session, giving Democrats a quorum to enact the changes (Oregon has had significant issues with Republicans denying quorums). Petitioners are also upset about a proposed Senate bill that would prevent state level elected officials from serving on a political party central committee. Petitioners would need 8,289 signatures by September 13.

Findley is the second Republican to face a recall effort over their role in showing up to work. Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod (R) is also facing this threat, with petitions due by July 6. 

California: A tactical argument for a late recall -- my op-ed in the LA Daily News

We've seen repeated signs that leading Democrats are pushing to move up the date of a recall election by eliminating some of the lag in the recall law. The LA Times' Mark Barabak may have the best explanation for this plan with an old political saying: "If you got the votes, call the roll." 

I take a counter position in this op-ed in the LA Daily News. You can read the piece to get the full opinion, but I'd first note that "calling the roll" in this case means scheduling an event at least two months from now. I suspect that the fear of "something can go wrong" misses out on the fact that something can just as easily go wrong in the shorter timeframe. The extra time doesn't add that much to the danger.

So what would Newsom be sacrificing to get this over with earlier? 

1) more time to get away from any lingering complaints of the pandemic. 

2) Enough of a cushion to make sure that any problems with school reopening are worked out before the vote. A major source of complaints and especially recalls have been targeting school board members for shutdowns and hybrid learning. This is one area that an "early surprise" can truly blow up in Newsom's face.

3) Money -- and lots of it. Newsom's fundraising will kick into high gear. I suspect that he will greatly outraise the pro-Recall side -- witness the Walker campaign in 2012. There's a good chance that most of the pro-recall money will come from small donors, and, as we've seen, there's a good chance that will be siphoned off to "other uses" or will involve an incredibly high cost ratio to raise the funds (allowing fundraisers to make a tidy profit). A good portion of the money is likely to go to replacement candidates and their campaigns, which is unlikely to make as good an argument for the recall -- remember, the replacement candidates are also competing against one and other.

4) This extra money will allow Newsom to dominate the campaign and the airwaves. The longer timeframe he has, the better that a strong campaign works.

5) This part is not in the piece, but it may illustrate why this is important. In 2008, Michigan Speaker of the House Andy Dillon faced a recall vote. The recall was scheduled for November -- the same day as his reelection run. If Dillon was removed, he would only be out for a few months. Presumably, the two votes would be very similar. They were, but the discrepancy may mean something. Dillon won the recall vote 14,257-23,987, and he won his reelection race 14,311-27,864. Now you can say there is a natural drop off in vote as it gets further down the ballot. But that drop off is not evenly distributed. The kick-Dillon-out campaign lost only 54 votes. But the keep-Dillon-in-power saw a drop-off of 3,877. This is one race. Maybe you feel it's not so important. Maybe you look at other famous past instances of appearing on the same ballot twice in one election and feel this doesn't mean too much. I would argue that what this may show is voters in favor of the recall are more motivated and interested in punishing the elected official. Which brings us to...

6) Newsom presumably has a lead in voters who would naturally vote for him. More time will allow Newsom and the Democrats to educate voters about the recall and make sure that they get out and cast their ballot. More time can help Newsom organize this turnout and education effort, which may be more important than any other factor in his survival. 

There are other arguments suggesting that a speedier recall would help Newsom. I think the most powerful is that the replacement candidates are in disarray and there has been no coalescing around any one contender. The only candidate who has got the most attention, Caitlyn Jenner, has been nothing short of a disaster. The longer time frame could allow the pro-recall forces to hit on the right candidate and "catch fire." 

I'd say that a longer campaign is a risk worth taking for Newsom. Increasing turnout and leaning into your monetary advantage is likely to be more valuable than focusing on what the opponents can do. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

California: New recall attempt against Los Angeles Councilmember

Another recall attempt has been filed against Councilman Mike Bonin, this time over homeless issues, though they previously were talking about his support for the shutdowns to prevent further damage from the coronavirus pandemic. Bonin previously faced a recall effort in 2017-2018 over his road diet plan -- the DOT's removal of 9.4 miles of traffic lanes to prevent pedestrian deaths. 

Lat time, petitioners needed 27,000 signatures and claim to have raised over $100,000. One of the petitioners back then was Mike Ryavec, who lost to Bonin in the last election in 2017.

Ohio: Signatures (14!) handed in against Mifflin Mayor

Signatures have been filed against Mifflin Mayor Vickie Shultz -- petitioners need 11 signatures and got 14 (which are still being verified). The total required is 15% of turnout. The recall effort was led by former Mayor Fred Craig after Mifflin voters decreased the stipend and council members pay from $2200 to $2 a year, and $40-$60 a meeting to $1 a meeting. However, due to the law, they are still being paid the original amount.  There is also complaints about violations at the village's sewage facility. 

Craig ran against Shultz (who has been in office since 2016) in 2019, but lost 38-22. 

Maine: Portland Charter Commission member facing recall threats

Portland Charter Commission member Nasreen Sheikh-Yousef (at-large) is facing recall threats after calling the City Manager (who is stepping down next spring) a white supremacist in a tweet right after winning election on June 8.

Colorado: Peak to Peak School Board member kicked out in recall vote

Peak to Peak Charter School (in Lafayette) board member Ari Axelrod was ousted in a recall, with 820 parents and staffers voting to recall. There are 1828 people eligible to vote. To win the election, Petitioners need both 30% of eligible voter turnout and 66% in favor of the recall. The issue was complaints about behavior. DAvid Woo is replacing him.

Oregon: Grant County Judge facing recall effort

Petitions are set to be taken out against Grant County Judge Scott Myers over complaints about administrative oversight and spending funds, as well as a complaints about failure invest in economic development. Petitioners need 578 signatures by September 8. A county judge is not really a judge, it is more of an executive position.

Pennsylvania: New Bill moves out of committee providing recall for Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee has passed allowing recalls in Philadelphia. A previous version of the bill had previously allowed recalls against state executive officers, though not against the Republican-dominated legislature (Rhode Island also has a recall law that leaves out the legislature). The vote was on a party-line.  Philadelphia's previous recall law was struck down in a 1976 State Supreme Court case

Minnesota: Red Wing City Council refuses to schedule recall elections against two council members, citing malfeasance standard

The Red Wing City Council has refused to set a recall election date against council members Erin Buss and Evan Brown. There has been recall efforts against six City Council members, Buss, Brown, Dean Hove, Andy Klitzke, Becky Norton, and Laurel Stinson. Five of them have got enough signatures (they are still counting for Hove). The recall effort follows the firing of the Police Chief (the vote was 6-1). The City Council vote was 6-1.

Minnesota is a malfeasance standard state, so petitioners will need to show a statutorily specific reason for the recall. The council is claiming that the recall does not meet the standard. There has been only one recall that I've seen in Minnesota since 2011, and it is likely there hasn't been another one since the state-wide adoption of a recall law in 1996. 


Arizona: Recall Effort against State Representative fails

The recall effort against State Representative Mark Finchem (R) has ended, with petitioners claiming that they collected more than 18,000 signatures and needed 24,774 to get on the ballot. 

The recall was over Finchem support for the Capitol Hill riots on January 6th and the attempted overthrow of the presidential election. Finchem alleged that the group is defaming him, presumably by running a recall effort. Finchem is running for Secretary of State, where he would be in charge of elections. 

The effort had been facing questions after the Chair of the Casa Grande Democrats, Ralph Atchue stepped back from the effort to let professionals run it. Representative Athena Salman (D) has also introduced a resolution to expel Finchem. Finchem accepted more than $6000 from Trump in Recount legal consulting. After facing an ethics complaint, Finchem filed ethic complaints against nearly all Democrats in the state legislature, which went nowhere. 

California: Replacement candidates must disclose five years of tax returns to run

Secretary of State Shirley Weber has said that a law that requires candidates to release five years of tax information will apply to recall replacement candidates. The law was struck down for presidential candidates but  does require disclosure for gubernatorial ones. There's a debate whether recalls should count (as it is a special election, the law specifies primaries), but Weber is claiming that they can use the primary election requirements based on the 2003 precedent. Good chance that this sees a lawsuit. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Ballotpedia's mid-year recall report out

The good folks at Ballotpedia have released their mid-year report for the recall -- noting 262 recalls (in 164 different jurisdictions), which they cite as the most since 2016. School board members are the big jump here -- which is directly related to the coronavirus. We're still waiting to see how many recalls actually get to the ballot.

Here's some more thoughts on it at the Hill.

Colorado: Lawsuit seeks to throw out new law limiting donations to Loveland Councilmember recall effort

There is now a lawsuit seeking to stop a new law requiring a $130 maximum on contributions to local campaigns, with the Committee to Recall Don Overcash arguing that the new position targets them.

The recall against Loveland City Council member Don Overcash is  over his revelation of not-yet- public information for a In-N-Out Burger drive-thru. Overcash is also allegedly hostile to the mayor and two other councilors. 

Overcash is running for mayor (so far unopposed). The lead petitioner is former city council member Troy Krenning. 

Petitioners need 1254 signatures in 90 days. 

Massachusetts: Cheshire Town meeting to vote on moving potential recall laws forward

An upcoming Cheshire Town Meeting will vote on allowing Selectmen to ask for legislation to provide for recalls for town officials (presumably this is asking for the state legislators and governor to approve such a law). Petitions would require 3% of registered voters or 100 voters, whichever is less, though they only have 20 days to gather the signatures. The official can run in the replacement race. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

California: Are recalls increasing -- a look at the local recall efforts

Here's an article in the LA Times (which quotes me) looking at the phenomena of increased recalls. I'm not sure if there is an increase or if it is simply the fact that one or two national issues (Covid and police/BLM protests) have dominated recall fights this year (as opposed to the usual, say a firing of a city manager), allowing people to notice the issue. We'll see how it plays out. 

California: New law allows waiving part of extended time frame for recall

In the continued push for an earlier recall timeframe, the legislatures are passing a law (A.152) that will waive the 30-day cost review process, allowing them to speed up the recall. The law goes into affect only if the money covering the recall is already approved by the legislature. 

Colorado: Three Pioneer Park School Board Members facing petitions

Pioneer Park School Board Members Jodene Boerner, Jill Brownell and Jennifer Ogley are facing petitions over claims about a hostile work environment causing employees to leave. No word on how many signatures are needed.