Monday, September 30, 2013

California: Dinuba Mayor, City Councilman facing petitions

Mayor Janet Hinesly and City Councilman Aldo Gonzalez received petitions over a utility rate hike.

Colorado: GOP State Chair targeted by pro-recall supporters for insufficient support

State GOP Chairman Ryan Call is now being targeted by supporters of the Morse/Giron recall for his lack of support in the recall effort.

Michigan: Petitions rejected in Benton Harbor school board recall

Petitions in an attempt to recall Benton Harbor School Board President Martha Momany and Trustees Willie Lark and Lue Buchana have been rejected because the petitions contain an opinion. said he was disappointed at the decision. The petition claims that by failing to call for a vote to end a meeting, the president violated the Open Meetings Act. The board has been unable to appoint a 7th member.

California: Op-ed on failed recall attempt againstNevada County Fire Protection District Board Member

Following the failed attempt to get a recall against Nevada County Fire Protection District Board member Keith M. Grueneberg. Petitioners needed 4,338 signatures and failed by 718 signatures.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes voting on recall amendment

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will be voting on a proposed recall amendment "for malfeasance, or any part of the Confederated Tribes’ Constitution.” Petitioners would need 1/3 of eligible voters.

California: High failure rate results in failure of Lake County Sheriff recall

The attempt to recall Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero failed, with a very high failure rate. Petitioners needed 7,026 signatures. They handed in 7,778, but only 5,715 were found valid. They article has the most detailed breakdown I've ever seen of why signatures failed:
Signatures of those not registered to vote totaled 668 (8.6 percent).
People who signed petitions more than once amounted to 250 (3.2 percent).
Two people withdrew signatures (0.0 percent). Those who registered late: 35 (0.4 percent).
Registered at a different address: 529 (6.8 percent). People who could not be identified: Five (0.1 percent)
Incomplete declarations totaled 71 (0.9 percent). No residence address given: 119 (1.5 percent).
There was no signature on 29 (0.4 percent) of the declarations.
Signatures that didn't match accounted for 42 (0.5 percent).
Incomplete residence address: 12 (0.2 percent).
Signature label used: 1 (0.0 percent).
Circulator inactive: 52 (0.7 percent)
Add written by someone else accounted for 248 (3.2 percent).

Michigan: New Haven trustee recall set for May 6

New Haven Village Trustees Jaremy Davis and Jennifer Podgurski will face a recall vote on May 6, though filing deadlines for any candidates in the race is October 7.

The issue is their support for a second landfill in neighboring Lenox Township.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

California: Morro Bay Mayor facing petitions over firing attempt against City Manager/City Attorney

Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons is facing recall threats over his attempt to fire the City Manager and the City Attorney.

Arkansas: Four Texarkana directors facing petitions over vote to rehire city manager

Petitions have been filed against four Texarkana  Directors, Sue Johnson, Laney Harris, Londell Williams and Mike Jones. The issue is a vote to rehire the city manager, who was fired in March (vote to rehire was 4-2). Petitioners need 35% of registereds.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ohio: Painesville charter looks to up signature requirement

Voters in Painesville will be deciding on whether to raise the  signature requirement to get a recall on the ballot from 15% of registered voters to 20%.

Michigan:Election commission turns down two petitions in West Branch-Rose City School Board recall

The Election Commission rejected the language for two petitions to recall West Branch-Rose City school board member Mike Eagan over factual and clarity issues. Eagan is alleged to have supported a teacher in the school district who was convicted of sexual assault against a student. Eagan sat behind the teacher at his sentencing. The petition was filed by the parents of the student.

California: Petitions taken out against Tehachapi's Golden Hills Community Service District Board

Petitioners in Tehachapi have taken out papers to recall five Golden Hills Community Service District's board members, over a decision by the district to assume authority for solid waste handling, which is currently provided by an outside company.
Petitioners need 1,190 signatures (25% of registereds) in 60 days.

Colorado: Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Center recall

Colorado's Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the controversial Center recall  from March. The issue was that there were identifying tabs left on the absentee ballots --letting vote counters know how people voted.

Monday, September 23, 2013

North Carolina: Voters look to kick out High Point Mayor, but no recall law on the books

Here's a look.Not sure why this is a surprise. Greensboro, NC held a recall for Councilwoman Diane Bellamy-Small in 2007. She survived.

California: Failure of the Marin Supervisor recall "a victory"

Here is an editorial in the Marin Independent Journal:
That sum compelled even Adams' political foes to oppose the recall. They rightly questioned the cost of holding a special recall election just a month or two before Adams, a three-term incumbent, is scheduled to stand for re-election.
The editorial notes that even the proponents got what they wanted:

It worked. While the recall petition was being circulated, at Adams' urging the county dropped the Marinwood Plaza as one of the county's regional "Priority Development Areas," sites designated for higher density for affordable housing because of their proximity to transit and Highway 101.

Washington: Clark County GOP threatens recall over gun control legislation

This is a little old, but worth noting.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Colorado: GOP leaders opposed recall efforts

Here's a look at the opposition from Republican leaders and gun rights groups that recall organizers faced when they first tried to push the Colorado recalls. Note this comment from GOP Chairman Ryan Call, which, based on the history of recalls, is straight out incorrect:
Call declined to speak about the details of conversations he had with organizers and elected county leaders but said recalls cannot be driven by a perceived partisan advantage. 
"That's why these recalls were successful," Call said. "They were not driven by one political party; they were really a reflection of grassroots support. The party's job and role is to step in once there is a recall effort and once we have a Republican candidate. Our job as a party is to support Republican candidates."

Wyoming: No state level recall, not likely to adopt one

Wyoming is one of the few Western states that don't allow the recall on the state level. There has been talk about adopting it statewide, though as this article notes, there doesn't seem to be any real effort to move forward:
The state only allows recalls for elected officials in cities or towns operating under a commission form of government. However, no Wyoming cities or towns currently use that form of government.
Phil Roberts, a University of Wyoming history professor, said Wyoming lawmakers considered allowing recalls in the 1910s. But the proposal was rejected
He said the state’s founders also considered the need for a process to oust elected officials before their term was up.
But he said they did this by putting in broad provisions for an official to be impeached.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Colorado: Bloomberg states that the NRA lost in Colorado


Massachusetts: Concord considering whether to add recall


Arizona: Maricopa Mayor term length increase brings up discussion of use of recall

Maricopa city council is putting a measure on the ballot to increase the mayor's term from 2 to 4 years. One of the arguments made in the debate was that the mayor could be removed by recall.

Massachusetts: Somerset looks at a commission to draft a recall law

A losing candidate for the Town Council is working on drafting a commission that will be draft a recall law. The commission idea would be voted on by citizens' petition at the upcoming Special Town Meeting on Oct. 28. The proposed law would require a malfeasance be committed for the recall.

Louisiana: Arnaudville Police Chief retires after signatures submitted

Following petitioners submitting 307 signatures calling for the recall of Arnaudville Chief Richard Mizzi, Mizzi has announced that he is retiring. Its not clear when the retirement goes into effect in relation to the recall -- presumably, it will cancel the election.

California: San Juan Capistrano councilman facing recall effort over water rate hike

Councilman Sam Allevato, who is in his ninth year, is facing a recall effort for his support of a groundwater treatment plant and a 2010 vote to increase water rates. 

Colorado: DA looking at stunt vote in recall; voter now affirms that he won't be moving into district

The District Attorney is now looking at Jon Caldara, the Independence Institute director, who cast a blank vote in the Colorado recalls to show the danger of "gypsy fraud" votes. Caldara had to state that he was moving to the district in order to vote. Caldara rented an apartment from Representative Mark Barker days before the election. He has since said that he wouldn't move due to flooding in Boulder.

Texas: Recall for support of San Antonio Non-Discrimination Ordinance expands to mayor, other council member

A group threatening to recall San Antonio Councilman Diego Bernal for his support of a non-discrimination ordinance, has now looked at going after Mayor Julian Castro and the other six council members who support the ordinance. Petitioners would need  6,000 signatures from registereds in 180 days for each councilmember and 75,000 for Castro.

Another article on the fear of the recall

I'll have to have a full article/post on this -- here's one piece saying that the Recall is the New Normal and here's another (which quotes me) on what the recalls mean for Republicans.

Wisconsin: Scott Walker book coming out

I'll see if I can get a review copy

Florida: Proposal to ask for a repeal of Stand Your Ground leads to recall discussion in Sarasota

A proposal to repeal the "Stand Your Ground" statue has led to discussion of a recall attempts against Sarasota Vice Mayor Willie Shaw and two commissioners, Suzanne Atwell and Suan Chapman.

The proposal won't actually have any effect on the law -- it is a request from the city commission to the state legislature to repeal "Stand Your Ground."  The person focused on the recall is referred to as a "Republican gadfly" in the article (though that might not mean much in terms of success rate for recalls). Local NRA officials said the reporter contact was the first they heard of the discussion.

California: Marin Supervisor recall effort fails to turn in petitions

No petitions were handed in the recall attempt against Supervisor Susan Adams. Petitioners needed 6,368 signatures. The petitions are claiming a victory, stating that they educated people about housing and policy issues.

Recalls of a Marin County board member are rare, the last having occurred in 1961 during heated debate over the fate of the Civic Center when supervisor J. Walter Blair was ousted — and replaced by Peter Behr.

Idaho: Two Lacelde Water District Board members facing recall threats

Two Board members of the Laclede Water District, Chair Randy McLain and Larry Doyle, are facing recall threats over complaints of a rate hike and fiscal mismanagement.

The recall has a bizarre circumstance here -- petitioners would ordinarily need 50% of the signatures of those who voted in the last election (not clear if that is the number or they had to have actually voted). However, the district turned its election records over to the county. Somewhere in this transfer, the records were lost. So, now they only need 20% of the whole district.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Jersey: Petitions to be handed in to recall West New York Mayor, town commissioners

The recall against West New York Mayor Felix Roque and three town commissioners is moving forward, as Commissioner Count Wiley is submitting more than 6,500 signatures. They need 5,300 (20% of registereds). Roque had tried to recall the former mayor Sal Vega in 2009.

Roque is currently facing charges that he and his son hacked a political opponents website.

Arizona: Petitions taken out against seven Bullhead City officials

Petitions are being taken out against seven Bullhead City officials, including Mayor Jack Hakim, Vice Mayor Kathy Bruck and Council Members Sam Medrano, Jerry Duvall, Sheila Shutts, Mark Clark and Tami Ring (though it is unclear if he will actually target all of them). Petitioner would need 650 valids per).

The issue is the approval of a commercial development deal, which was tabled by the Bureau of Land Management (the owner of the land).

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Mexico: Great Post on New Mexico's use of the recall

Here is a great breakdown from Matthew Reichbach at the New Mexico Telegram on New Mexico's use of the recall over the last 15 years.

Nevada: Attempt to recall State Senator over gun control issues faces high hurdles from state law

Gun rights supporters in Nevada are discussing a recall campaign against Democratic State Senator Justin Jones, over his support for a background check legislation that was then vetoed by the Republican Governor. This attempt hasn't seen much coverage (I just saw it for the first time today). Perhaps, this isn't a surprise -- Nevada's recall law is much more difficult than Colorado's. There is a good reason the state has never had a state-level recall.

On its face, Nevada's law seems to be easier than Colorado's and Wisconsin's requiring petitioners to gather signatures equal to 25% of turnout in the last election. They have 90 days to do it (in the other two states, they have 60 days). However, the 25% number is very different than others states -- thanks to a 1970 Amendment to the Constitution and a Nevada Supreme Court decision in 2010, the 25% has to be gathered from people who actually voted in the previous election for the position -- presumably, no new voters can sign, nor could anyone who sat out the election. As Richard Winger from Ballot Access News notes in the link, presumably, someone who moved out of the district or even out of the state can still sign.

This law alone is huge barrier.. Most states allow any registered voter in the district to sign. Wisconsin law allows any eligible voter to sign -- an even lower standard. Since voter turnout is always much lower than registered voters, this makes the recall attempt very tough.

But that is only part of the problem. Nevada also has a very different way of calculating the number of signatures required for a recall. It is not the 25% of turnout for the one office that is being contested (43,397 voted for the office -- which itself is higher than the number who voted in either the Giron or Morse seats) It instead requires that petitioners gather signatures equal to 25% of votes in the relevant geographic area. This total is always higher than the turnout for the targeted office. Some states have a similar requirement (using the turnout numbers in the district for the gubernatorial race). Presumably, that means that the undervote doesn't help the petitioners. What makes this figure even higher than in Colorado and other places is that Jones won office in 2012, a presidential election year. Therefore, the turnout in the area was at its highest (the Colorado seats were last up for election in 2010).

Any attempt to recall an official in Nevada is going to be harder than in many of the other states (like California, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon). In the almost three years that I've been keeping track of the nationwide recalls, I've only seen one Nevada recall get on the ballot (Here's some that happened in the 1970s). This tough law may be the reason why.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Louisiana: Petitions handed in against Arnaudville Police Chief

Petitioners have handed in 310 signatures in the recall attempt against Arnaudville Police Chief Richard Mizzi. They need 304. The issue is a contentious relationship between the chief and the city council. If he is removed, the replacement race won't be held until April.

Texas: Debate over signatures needed in Rio Grande City recall effort

There is a debate over the number of signatures needed to recall Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal, Commissioner Rey Ramirez, Commissioner Hernan R. Garza III and Commissioner Arcadio J. Salinas III (Only elected official would not be targeted).

The City Clerk says that:
city charter stipulates that such a petition be signed “by the qualified voters equal in number to 10 percent of the electors qualified to vote at the last preceding regular municipal election.” Because more than 7,000 people registered to vote last time around, more than 700 signatures would be needed, she said.

The petitioner argues that the charter is talking about turnout -- 10% of the 1600 who voted (160 signatures). He claims that he already has enough, though he will keep gathering.

Texas: Recall against two Fate officials rejected for lack of special election procedure

The attempt to recall Fate Mayor Bill Broderick and Mayor Pro Tem Sheri Garber has been put off due to a technical ruling by the City Secretary, who claims that all municipal recall elections must be held on a “uniform election date" in either November and May (she says that it is too late for the November date). The two are facing reelection in May. It is unclear whether the petitioners will challenge this ruling in court, as i

Petitioners needed 150 signatures, which they seemed to have recently handed in. The lead petitioner claims that Broderick kicked him off the Fate Development Corporation Board for questioning an anticipated cost of $10,000 to $12,000 for Broderick, his wife and Garber to make an economic development trip to China.

Arizona: Hualapai tribal judge upholds council recalls

A Hualapai (WAHL'-uh-peye) tribal judge has upheld the recall of two lawmakers who had been critical of the Grand Canyon Skywalk developer.
Tribal Council members Candida Hunter and Charlie Vaughn were ousted in March. Their terms had been set to expire in June.

Colorado: City Clerks release numbers on change of address/new registrants in recall campaign

Here's a follow-up to the allegations of "gypsy voting" -- in the Morse recall, 163 voters registered to vote and 105 changed their address before voting.. In Pueblo County (the Giron recall) close to 90 people registered to vote, though they don't yet have numbers on change of address.

California: Petitions handed in against two Yucca Valley Council members

Petitions have been handed in against Yucca Valley city council members George Huntington and Robert Lombardo.

Grounds for the recall include the approval of a three-year contract for the town manager’s services that brought his annual compensation to nearly $300,000 while the town faces a budget shortfall, then cut or reduced highly-valued community programs and the personnel to deliver those programs, Cohen said.
The Yucca Valley Town council late last month fired Town Manager Mark Nuaimi, a former Fontana mayor and assistant city manager in Colton.

Friday, September 13, 2013

California: Leader of Women's Veterans Association facing questions over her role in the push to remove Filner

The leader of the National Women Veterans Association of America, is facing legal questions for pushing to removal Filner. The issue is over whether the nonprofit group step into partisan politics in calling for Filner's ouster.

Colorado: Article attacking recall makes great case for recall

This article has a few facts wrong (11 states have the political recall, not 19). But in complaining about the recall, he notes this:

"The recall movement was started by a plumber who borrowed money from his grandmother to gin up the campaign against Giron."
I don't believe that this recall was the purely grassroots fight that the pro-recall side has tried to portray (there is a strong political advantage to that perception), and I think if anyone unravels the spending we will find a very different picture than what we've heard. The author notes the NRA's heavy spending in the recall, but the above statement is puzzling. Isn't it a positive for the political system that ordinary citizens can spark change?

Colorado: Denver Post editorial bashing Giron on voter suppression claim

CNN also had an interview where they took Giron to task for her arguments.

Colorado: Mayors Against Illegal Guns not stopped by recalls

Looks like the group is unbowed by the recall results, targeting officials in five new states,

California: Post-Script on the Filner recall effort -- 37,517 signatures were gathered in 6 days

Looks like San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was having serious pressure before he resigned -- according to petitioners they gathered 37,517 signatures in less than six days (they need 101,597. The recall committee raised $90,000 and spent $50K.
If the recall had qualified for the ballot, it would have been the first mayoral recall in San Diego history. Six other attempts in previous decades had failed to qualify.

California: Lassen Supervisor loses recall vote

Lassen Supervisor Jack Hanson was kicked out in a recall on Tuesday with 62% against him (928 total votes. Hanson was first elected in 2003. The issue was a vote to fire an Administrative Officer and some other nebulous issues.

Only 634 people voted in the replacement race (only one candidate there).

The controversial recall campaign was launched over two years ago and involved two attempts to qualify for an election. After Bustamante rejected the second petition because some signatures were on an improper form, a judge ordered her to accept them.

Florida: Tamarac Commissioner facing recall vote next month quits, gets $8,000

Commissioner Patte Atkins-Grad, who was found not guilty in her bribery trial, but would soon face a recall vote, resigned. After a difficult battle petitioners got a recall on the ballot, which was set for October 15. Atkins-Grad is claiming that her resignation has nothing to do with the recall, but is solely a health problem. She will be replaced by appointment.

 Oddly, Atkins-Grad is also getting $8,000. I'm not sure why she is getting the money (she asked for it to settle litigation) - it frankly feels like a greenmail situation. Here's a very critical take on the money. It appears that the pro-recall petitioners noted that the recall vote would cost over $50,000, and felt this was the best solution from a cost-benefit perspective. You have to wonder if this should be looked at by legal officials.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

North Carolina: Municipalities and the recall

Only 22 of North Carolina's 552 towns and municipalities allow for recalls. This article discusses Statesville's only recall campaign (this is a follow-up to an earlier piece on that 1963 recall against council members for integrating local pools).

The signature requiement at the time was 25% of turnout in mayoral election, which ended up being 6% of registered voters. In 1984, the changed the law to 25% of registered voters (and, the article mentions eligible voters for non-at large council members).

The largest municipalities with recall elections are Raleigh, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Combined, the three have an average population more than 307,000.
Troutman, with a 2011 population of 2,409, is the fourth-smallest town with recall elections, behind Topsail Beach (377), Foxfire (913) and Belhaven (1,685).

Colorado: Some roundups on the Senate recalls

I believe we'll have more to say on the subject in the coming days, as today really got away. I was cited in this Wall Street Journal piece (where I mention the symbolic nature of these two recalls -- not that it limits their power), as well as in the AP and two Reuters stories. I didn't speak to the Reuters reporter and this story has me saying that recalls are not on the rise (I've written that they are). I think that is probably a problem in the editing stage, not the writing stage.

Also worth checking out is this article in the Volokh Conspiracy, what I believe is one of the best right/center/libertarian legal blogs. The article, by David Kopel, a strong gun rights supporter in Colorado, gives a good take on the impact that the petitioners are hoping for. When all is said and done, I would like to see what the real spending figures -- including dark money -- is on these races.

This article also looks at one of the questions I examined -- whether this will help Republicans in Colorado in 2014.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

State Legislative Recalls -- the Party Breakdown

David Nir from the Daily Kos asked me about the D v. R breakdown on successful recalls and whether the recalls actually result in a change in party for the seat.

I've mentioned before that it is very difficult if not almost impossible to breakdown local recalls by party (most local races are nonpartisan). But it is easy to do on the state level.

So first, the Governors. Everyone is aware that Gray Davis was a Democrat replaced by a Republican in 2003. In the first recall, in North Dakota, Lynn Frazier was a member of the Nonpartisan League, but he was considered a Republican. He was ousted in 1921 by a member of the Independent Voters Association, Ragnvold Anderson Nestos. Nestos appears to have also been a Republican. 

For State Legislators we have the following messy breakdown, which I will explain in depth:
6 Democrats – 4 replaced by Republicans
12 Republicans—4 replaced by Democrats
2 Party Flippers (R to Independents) – Both Replaced by Republicans

Since the start of the recall, 13 Democrats faced recalls, 6 of them have lost their seats, four were replaced by Republicans.  One of the recalled officials was for removed under a cloud of corruption (Gary George, Wisconsin 2003). He was replaced by a Democrat. One was a complicated affair from 1914 (E.E. Grant in California), and was probably also replaced by a Democrat (the official who lost the seat to Grant in the previous election).

The other four were Colorado's Morse and Giron, and two Michigan Senators in 1983 (one of them resigned days before the recall). All four of those were replaced by Republicans.

22 Republicans have faced recalls, 12 lost their seats. Yet, only 4 were definitely replaced by Democrats (Wisconsin Senator Gary Petak in 1996 and the three Wisconsin Senators in 2011/12).

Of the others:
Three were crime/malfeasance issues (California, 1913; Oregon 1985; Oregon 1988). One was over a failure to support the Townsend Plan in 1935 (Oregon). They were all replaced by Republicans (the Oregon ones were appointment rather than election).

Republicans lost two seats in 2011 (Michigan's Paul Scott and Arizona's Russell Pearce). Both were replaced by Republicans, though the Arizona one was a much more moderate Republican. Michigan's replacement race was months later, and Paul Scott clearly backed the victor. 

Idaho had two recalls in 1971, both over a pay raise. Both officials were removed – I don’t know who replaced them. I had to call up Idaho’s Secretary of State years ago just to find out their names. I would guess they were replaced by Republicans.

In addition to those officials, two assemblymembers in California in 1995 switched from Republican to independent (both switchers flipped the Assembly). Those two were ousted and replaced by Republicans. 

Colorado: Public Policy Polling nails the Giron recall

I did not see this poll at all -- I'm not sure that it was released. They had Giron down by 12, the exact end result. Also, here's some thoughts from the spokesperson for the recall and a look at some of the backers of the Giron recall.

Oregon: Weston mayor survives second recall vote

Weston Mayor Duane Thul staved off a recall vote yesterday, winning 120-89 (57%). Turnout was 63%.  Thul was accused of spending too much and being rude. This is actually the second -- he faced one in 2011 (and won with 72% of the vote. The reason they could have another recall was because he ran and won in November.

Two Colorado State Senators Bounced in Recall Vote

The numbers are in, and both John Morse and Angela Giron have lost their seats, making Morse the second state legislative leader to lose a seat in a recall election (the first was Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce in 2011). Morse and Giron are the 20th state legislators to lose recall elections in US history.

The Morse race was very close -- he lost 9,094 to 8,751 (50.9 to 49%) . If the turnout figures kept up from earlier in the day (where Republicans made up 39% of turnout), then independents must have broken for Morse. Just not enough independents.

Giron was a much larger victory, 19,355-15,201 (56-43.9%), and, from the pre-result coverage, more of a surprise (now, everyone is saying that it is a blue collar town, but I can assure you that wasn't the conventional wisdom before tonight -- only a few articles said otherwise). Democrats had appeared to vote in force, but that doesn't seem to have helped at all.

A couple of points:

Victory for the NRA, but is it one for the Republicans?
There's no question that Gun Rights groups scored a big win here. I mentioned that this is a symbolic recall -- the gun control law was not getting overturned and the Democrats would not lose control of the Senate. However, as a symbol, this is a big one. It may once again scare off legislators from moderate to conservative districts in the rest of the country from supporting gun control legislation. If the goal was to revisit 1994, then it is very possible that they succeeded.

The Republicans may see this victory as a sign of party resurgence, especially after a dismal decade. They may also see Governor Hickenlooper as very vulnerable. That may be more than a step too far. The impact of a recall on the state could be very limited.

Look at the two big recent recalls. Scott Walker won a decisive victory in 2012. A few months later, not only did Barack Obama win the state, but (perhaps a better indicator) Tammy Baldwin beat former Governor Tommy Thompson for the US Senate seat. A similar result after the Gray Davis recall in 2003. John Kerry easily took the state in 2004, and Barbara Boxer overwhelmingly won the Senate seat.

The reason for that phenomena may be due to...

We mentioned already that recalls frequently have a much lower turnout than regular races, especially in a special election setting. This helps the pro-recall crowd -- they have a movers advantage. You can see this as being the key to the Morse recall.  In 2010, Morse won his seat with 28,000 votes cast. Today, a little less than 18,000 votes were cast. That drop off most likely won't be repeated in 2014.

Same thing with the Giron district. In 2010, 41,648 votes were cast. This time, 34,556. Very steep drop off. It wasn't voter suppression, it was more of a natural result of a special election. Republicans may be thrilled by the results, but it is a stretch to read more into this.

In the same vein:
How safe are the recall victors?
There is a recent history of insurgents winning a seat in a recall, and then losing in the next race. You'll see this a lot on the local level. But it has also been occurring on the state level -- It happened to the winner of the Arizona recall in 2011 and with one of the two seats that faced a new vote in Wisconsin from 2011 (the third seat is up in 2014). Big time caveats -- those seats were redistricted after the election and changed significantly. But still worth noting that the recall didn't help them keep the seats.

The extra turnout and the fact that Democrats may want to target these likely winnable seats may put the two victors in a very tough election race come 2014.

More Recalls:
Already, I saw chatter of recalls on both sides of the aisle. I kind of doubt they will happen this term, but for Republicans, there is a very tempting target -- they just need to pick off one seat to gain control of the Senate. In fact, if they had been able to get the signatures for one of their other targets, they might have the seat already. Voters do not mind casting a ballot that will result in flipping the legislature. There have been four recalls (four or five if you want to count in 1995 multiple times, which we won't) that could have switched the legislature (Washington 1981, Michigan 1983, California 1995, Wisconsin 1996). All  but the one in Washington succeeded.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Colorado: Allegations of voter suppression efforts ignore the reality of recall elections

We now have the usual flip side of the "gypsy voter fraud" allegations that we heard yesterday -- an equally specious complaint of voter suppression. Part of the complaint is that the mail-in ballot law was tossed out for the recall. Nothing can be said about that -- that's the rules, and you got to play'em.

The other, more important claim, is that the turnout is exceptionally low, even for a recall. However, this may not be borne out by facts. With a few, very noteworthy exceptions, recalls usually see lower turnout.

Let's look at another high profile state legislative recall. Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce faced a recall which took place on an election day (albeit a true off year election). Election Day recalls should have higher turnout than a regular special election like in Colorado, and since Pearce was such a lightening rod, you might expect great turnout. Instead, 23,296 people voted, down from 31,023 who voted in the 2010 general election (when it was a safe seat).

Now, turnout is very low for Morse -- so far, there are only a little over 15,000 votes (which will go up by the end), which is a bit more than half the turnout for 2010 (almost 28,000 in a slightly different district).

A couple of other examples: In 1995, three California Assembly members faced recalls. Each of these well-publicized elections drew from 25 percent to 35 percent of registered voters, well below the turnout for a general election. Similarly, the Michigan 1983 recalls saw a much smaller electorate. The 2003 Wisconsin Senate recall of Gary George saw only 8% turnout (in a primary in a low turnout district).  Even in some game-changing recalls, the turnout is low.

The best counter-examples are Gray Davis, Scott Walker and the full Wisconsin recalls. But those were much higher profile. Even the Walker one saw less turnout that was expected. Despite the spending, the Morse/Giron recalls don't approach the notoriety of a gubernatorial recall.

So what is happening? Both sides are trying to manage expectations and win the debate over how the recall is portrayed.

Colorado: New vote totals show Republicans still leading turnout in Morse district, way behind in Giron

The Denver Post reports that 15,692 voters had marked ballots in El Paso County (Morse's seat). Republicans have come out in force -- they were 26% of registered voters, but are 39% of the current vote.. The total vote was Republicans 6,107, Democrats 5,256 and unaffiliated 4.090.

In Pueblo, 31.206 people have voted, with Democrats holding a commanding lead -- 14.260-10,087-6.658. Democrats have 47% of the district voters, compared to 23% for Republicans.

Colorado: Hickenlooper warns of disruptive behavior at the polls

Check it out here:
In a statement Monday, Hickenlooper said that there have been disturbing reports of people going to the polls not to vote but to "disrupt the process." 
Spokesman Eric Brown says there have been reports of people asking for ballots but walking away without casting them in El Paso and Pueblo counties. He said the missing ballots could be used as a reason to challenge the results of the election. 
The Pueblo county clerk says three people apparently didn't cast ballots on electronic machines after being given cards to activate them Saturday. Election judges there are now inserting the cards on behalf of voters.

Colorado: Independent voters and the Morse Recall -- Polls and the Wisconsin example

As of yesterday, vote totals suggested that Republicans had come out in much greater force in the Morse recall -- they had cast nearly 1,000 ballots more (5,192-4,314). Early voting has historically benefited Democrats, so this is considered a bad sign (Giron has a big lead among Democrats).

There could all change today, but I did want to look at the one number that was overlooked in the coverage -- the Independent/third party vote. 3,479 votes have come from independents or third party voters. Morse actually won his race in 2010 due in part to a Libertarian candidate, so third party voters have had an impact in the district. But what can we expect from these independents?

The one poll of the state showed that independents were much more likely than Republicans to oppose the recalls. In the Morse case, it was 36-52% against a recall, and 37-49% against a Giron recall. 62% of Republicans were in favor of the Morse recall. Again, this was a poll of the state, and not of the specific district so the value is limited, but that opposition to the recall could be a good sign for Morse.

On the other hand, we have Wisconsin. It may not be a stretch to say that Scott Walker survived the recall primarily because of the independent vote. The Republicans were overwhelming in favor of Walker and the Democrats were overwhelmingly opposed. But independents broke to him 54-45% -- very close to his final victory margin. That could be a very good sign for Morse -- as there are a number of similarities between Wisconsin and Colorado. However, to muddy the waters, we should look at a different fact in Wisconsin. In 2010, Walker won the independents by an estimated 56-42%. So, he actually did worse in the recall than in the general election among independents.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Louisiana: Port Allen Mayor recall signatures certified

The petitions to recall Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter was certified with 1,387 valids. Petitioners handed in 1,521 and needed 1,273. Even if Slaughter is recalled, she can run in the replacement race. Here are some of the key reasons for the recall:
Slaughter supporters have targeted one of her critics, City Councilman At-Large R.J. Loupe, with petitions.

Colorado: A few more articles on the recall

Here's an AP piece with my quote and a Denver Post article noting my top 10 post.

Montana: Will we see a recall effort against Montana Judge in controversial rape sentencing ruling?

There's been a lot of coverage recently of the Montana State Judge G. Todd Baugh, who sentenced a teacher to a month a jail (and 15 years suspended sentence) for raping a 14 year old student (the student later committed suicide).

The coverage hasn't mentioned a recall, and it seems like a decent question as to why that hasn't come up. Montana does have a recall law (the mayor of Troy, Montana was kicked out last year). However, the state's recall law is one that uses a "malfeasance standard" -- meaning the official has to be accused of certain crime, malfeasance or incompetence for the recall to go forward. This is a high hurdle -- it is unclear if there is any claim that Baugh actually violated any rules. Interestingly enough, in 2006, there was an attempt to pass Constitutional Initiative 98 in Montana, which would have specifically allowed recalls against judges for any reason (though not against other officials). I wrote an article on the subject for Montana Lawyer, but that specific issue seems offline. I believe the attempt was thrown out by a judge and never got to the ballot.

That being said, Baugh would seem to be one of the rare candidates for a judicial recall. It is extremely rare for a judge to face a real recall vote. The most famous alleged to judicial recall, against California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird and Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin, were not recalls. They were actually mandatory retention elections.

However, in 1977 and 1982, two recalls against Wisconsin Judges over ultra-lenient treatment/abuse comments about victims of sex offenders got to the ballot. One of these judges was removed and  the other survived the vote. Baugh's sentencing failure make him an obvious candidate for a similar treatment, that is if petitioners could get the recall past the judicial review stage.

Colorado: Would a Morse loss usher in a more liberal Senate leader

That is the (unsurprising) finding in this Talking Points Memo article.

Colorado: The distilled Top 10 list of facts for the Colorado recall

Tomorrow ends the voting on the recalls of Colorado State Senate President John and state Senator Angela Giron. So far, Republicans have turned out very heavily in the Morse recall, though it is not clear how independents will break.

Last week I wrote a huge round-up on the recall -- available right here. Since then, I've seen some stories with incorrect facts on the history and use of the recall. In case you don't want to read through 4000+ words, here's a top line finding:

1. The recall (among the 11 states like Colorado that have a political recall) has never been limited to or focused on corrupt officials. The argument that the recall was suppose to be used only to oust corrupt officials is a long running canard, one disproved by both history and the fact that there are actually seven states that limit the recall to corruption issues.

2. The two recalls represent the 37th and 38th recalls of state legislators in US history, and the first in Colorado's history.

3. The removal record in the 36 legislative recalls up till now is 18-18 (caveats in the link). Generally (on the local level), recalls result in removal more than half the time (85 out of 151 in 2011, 108 out of 168 in 2012).

4. There have been recalls focused on gun control in the past, including one in 1994 of a state legislative leader in California (he survived).

5. Morse is the 5th legislative leader to face a recall vote. 3 of the 4 survived the vote.

6. Big campaign spending in recalls in recalls are nothing new. In at least two other states, the most expensive state legislative campaigns were recalls.

7. Recalls tend to be blowouts, though there are plenty of close races.

8. Multi-official recalls tend to be clean sweeps (either all officials win or lose), though in Wisconsin in both 2011 and 2012 we had split results.

9. Colorado has held between 12 recalls (or resignations) in 2011, 10 last year and 11 this year. Officials have survived at a better than 50% rate.

10. There have been polls showing voters opposed to the use of the recall on policy grounds. There is a very strong partisan divide to the polls -- based on whether you support or oppose the specific recall that is being run. Following recalls, state legislators invariably try to tinker or eliminate the recall, but they never seem to go the voters with a proposal.

Colorado: Hickenlooper attacks "Gypsy Vote" argument

Here -- this seems to be one of the "rile up the base" tactics.

Colorado: Denver Post comes out against recalls, with same wrong stats as the Washington Post

I guess the mistaken number of 32 recalls is referring to state legislators before 2012. I have no idea where they got the 11 successful recalls number.

Maryland: Rock Hall attorneys submit proposed recall law


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wisconsin: Failed recall candidate now challenging Wanggaard in Senate primary

Jonathan Steitz, who lost the 2011 recall attempt against state Sen. Bob Wirch (one of the three Democrats who faced a recall) is now planning on running as a more conservative alternative to Van Wanggaard,who lost his recall in 2012.

Colorado: Cool interactive map on donations to in the recall race

Here -- you can see where everyone who donated lives.

Colorado: More allegations, though no evidence that "Gypsy Voting" could affect recalls

This is one of those issues that came up earlier in the recall campaign -- pro-recall backers were claiming that anyone in Colorado could vote in the recall if they attest to moving to the recall districts. Jon Caldara, president of the think tank Independence Institute (who was called a political stuntman in the Denver Post), who lives in Boulder, voted (with a blank ballot) to prove the law, though it is unclear if anyone else voted this way. There is also some discussion on student voting.

There is also some new numbers for the voting totals:

A total of 2,328 ballots were cast Saturday, bringing the total number of votes so far to 9,485. Of those, 3,923 were cast by Republicans, 3,081 by Democrats and 2,351 by unaffiliated voters.

North Carolina: 1963 tale of how a pool integration led to a six member Statesville City Council recall

Interesting tale here of what is believed to be the only recall of an entire elected governing body in the state of North Carolina -- the six members of the Statesville City Council in 1963. The Council was kicked out for their vote to integrate the pools. The laws helped the petitioners out:
Statesville had 9,477 registered voters. Owens needed only 556 of them to sign the petition and trigger the recall election, which is just over 5 percent of the total. 
The recall election set a record in Statesville for voter turnout of 53.4 percent and all six members of the board -- W.C. Wood, M.J. Angell Jr., Reid Summers, L.S. Gilliam Jr., Mrs. Robert P. Cline (as she was referred to in every article written about the council at the time) and Sidney Ingram -- were ousted. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Colorado: Sunlight Foundation looks at the money in the Colorado recall

A good examination right here

California: San Bernardino recall estimated to cost $205,000

The entire expense for the recall of City Attorney James F. Penman, Councilman John Valdivia and Councilwoman Wendy McCammack is expected to be $205,000. The recall will be held on election day, so that should have lowered the cost. The total election is estimated to cost $450,000.

Colorado: Governor backs Democratic Senators, but some asking why he isn't more vocal in his support


Colorado: Winning incumbents have right to get reimbursed

Colorado has a provision that if an incumbent wins a recall, they can get paid back ten cents per vote. These type of provisions are not unusual -- California has one that just pays the candidate back all the money, and Arizona has one that may allow repayment for a winner or a loser.

Neither Morse nor Giron are looking for reimbursement. From past experience, very few candidates seek the money.

Colorado: NRA spending tops $361,703

A new filing released yesterday showed that the NRA has thrown in another $141,000 into the recall campaign. Total NRA spending is $361,703.

California: Three San Bernardino recalls on the November 5th ballot


Arizona: Superior Town Councilor kicked out in recall

Superior Town Council woman Kiki Peralta lost a recall vote last week, 438-238. Mila Besich-Lira won the race.

Peralta was a major outspoken opponent of the Resolution Copper Mine and Oak Flat land exchange,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Colorado: Huge differences in how Pueblo and Colorado Springs treat early voting already having an impact

Check out this story from Megan Schrader -- there have already been 2,800 votes in Pueblo (Giron district). Colorado Springs (Morse district) has yet to open.

Texas: Third attempt against Lubbock Councilman

Councilman Floyd  Price is facing a third recall attempt. The first one ended with no signatures handed in. The second one was sent back because some of the original signers did not live in the district.

Massachusetts: Easthampton Councilor who just missed a recall running for reelection

Easthampton City Councilor Donald L. Cykowski, who came within 17 signatures (out of 2218) of facing a recall is planning on running for reelection.

Louisiana: Petitions handed in against Port Allen Mayor

Petitioners trying to recall Port Allen Mayor Demetric "Deedy" Slaughter submitted more than 1,432 signatures. They need 1,273. Slaughter is facing a recall due to giving herself a pay raise without council approval and going on a taxpayer funded trip to DC.

Washington Post's bizarre article discussing the recall misses the mark badly

Today, both the New York Times and Washington Post have articles on the recall. The Times piece is basically a straight forward story on Colorado. The Washington Post's piece though is something else entirely. It is a botched attempt to criticize the recall and one I'm just not sure where the numbers come from:

The problems are all over the place. I am completely confused by the numbers listed in the Washington Post article -- the numbers make no sense whatsoever based on any data I've seen. It states that 32 successful recalls have taken place since 1911, and have 11 of them have taken place since 2011. I don't know what those numbers are referring to at all. There have been 36 state legislative recalls (two of the candidates resigned during their recall -- does that affect the data?), and 15 of them (not counting Colorado's two) have taken place since 2011.

I'm also mystified by the 21 recalls that have gotten on the ballot and failed and the 13 recalls that have failed over the last two years -- are we talking about in Wisconsin (which would be incorrect as well) or is it some other number? Even the number of states with the recall is wrong -- it is 18, not 17.

There is also this statement, which is simply total wrong:
The recall election, once reserved for forcing out elected officials accused of a crime, ethics violations or gross misconduct, has become an overtly political tool. 
In the 11 states with a political recall (like California, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado), the recall was never about misconduct. It was an overtly political tool designed to "arm the people to protect themselves hereafter" in the words of California Governor Hiram Johnson.

And, while I agree about the nationalized of politics in general, there are plenty of examples showing the recall going beyond local concerns (the recall in Oregon in 1935 was over a failure to support the Townsend Plan).

A. Lawyers, Guns and Money -- Q. What to Expect When You're Expecting a Recall: Colorado State Senate edition

On September 10th, Colorado will be holding its first ever state-level recalls against two Democratic state Senators, Senate President John Morse and Angela Giron, for their support for gun control legislation. Petitioners actually went after two other legislators and discussed recalling the Governor, but they failed to turn in petitions for those officials.

In many ways, these recalls are different than most famous recalls of recent years against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and California Governor Gray Davis in that the primary goal here is symbolic. These recalls will not result in Republicans gaining control of the Senate (absent a Democratic Senator flipping parties). Morse is term-limited and out of office in 2014. Democrats are not actively looking to draft new gun control laws, and since the Democrats control the House and the Governor's office, the laws will likely not be revoked until a new full election.

This recall is also what I would call a single-issue/interest group recall, which have their own history (I think in many ways the Walker recall can also be defined under this category) Yet, symbolic and interest group recalls can be very powerful, sending a message to other politicians not to mess with that specific issue. A look back at California in 1994 shows one example that the recall backers are certainly hoping will repeat.

The recall is also noteworthy because Colorado has become a purple state, one that may be deciding presidential elections in the future. Morse almost lost his race in 2010, and so his seat (caveats about how redistricting might affect this argument way below) may be a particularly good test of strength for the two parties and especially for how the issue of gun control/gun rights plays in the upcoming election. The Wisconsin recall did not seem to have any impact on 2012 -- will it matter in 2014 and beyond or was it just a one time event? We can only be certain that both sides will try to spin the recall results to their own benefit.

The recalls have seen a massive amount of litigation, over issues such as whether an all mail-in ballot campaign may be used; the time that minor parties can use to get on the ballot; whether one part is unconstitutional. We are also, not surprisingly, seeing a lot of money being dropped into the race. And we've seen possibly cutting edge technology used to possibly reshape the way election are run (especially recalls and other ballot initiatives) going forward.

We'll get to all of these issue and others in our extensive look at the recall below. I probably will add some further blog posts to this over the coming week. Some of these posts (especially at the end) are taken directly from past round-ups I've written on the Wisconsin/Arizona/Michigan state level recalls. No apologies for the size or the repetition, so kick back, and in honor of his providing us with the perfect headline for the recall, fire up your favorite Warren Zevon album and let's go:

The Recall Explosion: I was in the House When the House Burned Down:

The Morse and Giron recalls represent the 37th and 38th recalls of state legislators in US History (that we know of). The success breakdown is a clean 18-18 -- though Wisconsin really skews the numbers as only 3 of the 13 legislators targeted lost their seats (though I count this resignation in the survived a recall column, as the Republicans easily took the seat).

Most of these recalls have taken place in recent years -- only five were before 1971, and 20 will have taken place since 2003 (plus two of the four gubernatorial -- if we count Arizona's Evan Meacham in 1988-- recalls to get to the ballot). Over the last two years, we've seen what is thought to be a possible nationwide surge in recalls on the local levels as well (since we don't have any great numbers from pre-2011, it's impossible to make any real determination). I've tracked 151 recalls in 2011, and 168 in 2012.

What explains the explosion? Many cite increased partisanship. I am skeptical of that explanation, and have argued that technological innovations (and possibly a drop in voter turnout and registration) are really responsible for the lion's share of the growth. See here for more thoughts:

Carbon Copy:
A term-limited Democratic state Senate leader in a swing district is facing a recall over his support for gun control. Have we heard this story before? Indeed we have. In 1994, California Senate President Pro Tempore David Roberti faced a recall under those exact same circumstances. Roberti survived his recall vote, though gun rights groups have to look back fondly at that time period. Rather than rehash my whole article from the Atlantic, you can go to the link.

Colorado Recall's Dirty Life and Times -- the recent use of recall in the state
Colorado was among a group of states that adopted the recall for use against state level officials back in 1912 (four other states adopted the law that year, two states had adopted it in the years before 1912). The most interesting feature of the Colorado recall, a law that allowed the recall of judicial decisions, was ruled unconstitutional in 1930. 

The state has not been among the most prominent users of the recall, and unsurprisingly, there has been very little written on the subject. Colorado also has a surprising track record. The recall is known for being very successful once it gets on the ballot, with a better than 50% chance of kicking the official out -- for example, in 2012, there were 168 recalls, resulting in 82 removals and 26 resignations. However, in Colorado, officials seem to survive the recall vote. Here''s what we've seen occur in Colorado over the last three years:

In 2011, 12 officials faced the recall (two of whom resigned). Eight of the officials and two were removed.

In 2012, 10 recalls (two resignations); Six of the officials survived and two were removed.

2013 has been a strange year. So, far there have been 11 recalls -- three resignations, four officials survived recall votes (all in one race). One other official (a school board member) lost a recall vote. The other three recalls, involving the Center Mayor and two trustees of are in a state of flux, with a big lawsuit over the balloting heading up to the Supreme Court. The Aspen Center and Marilyn Marks, who has been very involved in some of the process issues in the Morse and Giron recalls, is also right in the middle of the Center recall problem.

Mr. Bad Example

Colorado has not had famous recall in the past. In fact, the most recent book on recalls (from 1998) cites none from the state. I'll propose that the most famous recalls prior to this year are either the Saguache County Clerk, the School Board member who resigned and was later arrested for sexting with a student or the official who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Other States
18 states have the recall for state level officials (plus Illinois has it just for governors and Virginia has something called a recall trial). Of those 18 states, 9 have held state-level office recalls. There is a very significant breakdown between those states. 11 of the states have a political recall (an official can be recalled for any reason); 7 have a judicial recall or malfeasance standard (the official must have violated one of a specified list of causes, such as being indicted).

Of the nine states that have held state level recalls, eight of them have been political recall states (California, Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, North Dakota, Colorado). The only recall on the state level in a malfeasance standard state was in Washington in 1981 (the malfeasance was switching parties -- the official survived).

You have selected Regicide: Legislative leaders edition

John Morse is the fifth state legislative leader to face a recall vote. The first was California Senate President Pro Tempore David Roberti in 1994. The second was Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon in 2008. The fourth was Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. All three of these officials won their races easily.

The third, and only loser, was Arizona Majority Leader Russell Pearce who was kicked out of office on November 2011 in a bitter recall battle over immigration and other issues. Perhaps worth noting is that Pearce lost to a Republican.

There was one other recall of a legislative leader, though the circumstances were so bizarre that it has to be separated out. Without going into too much details about the California recall wars of 1995, Republican Doris Allen backed the Democrats in a closely divided Assembly that had already seen two recall votes. Allen was elected Speaker of the Assembly and served for a little over 3 months, but she stepped down before her recall. She lost her recall race.

Multi-officials recalls:

Multiple officials facing recalls in one election are a common occurrence. As you see in this link, these recalls frequently result in a clean sweep, one way or the other (either all of the officials surviving the recall or all being removed).

On the state level, we've seen multi-official recalls happen numerous times in the past -- North Dakota (1921) Idaho (1971), Michigan (1983) and Wisconsin (2011, 2012). Additionally, California had three recalls in 1995, though all were on different days. In North Dakota, Idaho and Michigan, the officials were all kicked out of office. In Wisconsin, while the explanation is a little more complex, there was a splits in both 2011 and 2012.

Headless Thompson Gunners and other gun control focused recalls:

There have been at least two other gun control recalls. One is the aforementioned David Roberti recall. The other was one of the most famous recalls in history, against then-San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein in 1983. San Francisco had passed a handgun ban (which was struck down by the State Supreme Court). A militant communist group called the White Panthers were also big gun rights supporters and quickly collected enough signatures to get a recall on the ballot. There was a moment when the recall became a "kitchen sink" event, where disparate groups who disliked Feinstein glommed on to try and kick her out. Then, it collapsed. Feinstein won with 81.5% of the vote, which helped propel her career -- the next year, she was talked up for the Vice Presidency (though we shouldn't overstate the recall's impact -- it was more ).

There is one current recall that has touched on gun control, but more as a bizarre tactic. Sunnyside, Arizona School Board Member Daniel Hernandez Jr. is facing recall petitions. Hernandez is credited with helping to save Representative Gabby Giffords (he was her intern). The recall threat (doesn't look like there's much hope of it getting on the ballot) has actually been brought by two other members of the board who are facing recalls over their own support for an embattled and ethically challenged school superintendent. However, there have been flyers attacking Hernandez's for his support for gun control (and the fact that he is gay). So, not really a gun control recall, just a tactic to attack Hernandez.

For My Next Trick I'll Need a Volunteer -- Turnout and recalls
The recalls were supposed to fall under a new law allowing an all mail-in ballot election. However, due to a drafting failure (not uncommon when discussing a recall), the new law failed to consider the specifics of recall law. The law had a 10 day limit for replacement candidates to get on the ballot. Colorado's Constitution required a 15 day limit for recalls. The result was the mail-in ballots were tossed out. The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal (3-3 vote). And the mail-in ballots are not being used.

Stories have suggested this development benefits Republicans, which makes sense as I've long argued that recall proponents have an advantage in a recall (especially a special election one) because of the turnout issue. There is usually only one race on the ballot and you have to know about and care about the race (which is one of the reasons that the recall proponents have an advantage in the recall). In 1994, the three California Assembly recalls saw 20 to 25% turnout, with similar numbers in Michigan in 1983.

However, the most prominent recalls can see a boost. The Gray Davis recall saw a much higher voter turnout number than in the general election. Same thing with Scott Walker last year.

Turnout is always a popular issue for campaigns. When you think about it, turnout is one of the only tactics that they have real control over. In this case, with Morse coming from a very evenly split district, it can be a difference maker.

Give me Two Steps:

Colorado's recall is what I call a two-step/same-day recall vote -- voters cast one ballot which has two parts: step one is the question (not using the literal language) of "Should this official be recalled?" and step two is "Who should be named as a replacement?" The only state that has this exact process is California. This hybrid process is important for two reasons. One is the question of whether the recall itself (the first vote) is actually an election or an issue campaign. There is a difference in how money may be spent by parties if it is an issue campaign. We've actually seen one complaint against the replacement candidate for Morse because he was running ads calling for Morse to be recalled.

The second point, which ended up before the Colorado Supreme Court, was that Colorado's Constitution very clearly stated that if you don't vote on the recall question, any second vote is tossed out and doesn't count. This same question came up in California in 2003. A Federal Court ruled it unconstitutional (under the 1st and 14th amendments). In a 5-2 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court apparently followed the same logic (though we haven't seen the full written decision). The slightly humorous aside is that the since there is only one replacement candidate in each race, there is a very small likelihood that the undervote could matter.

And playing the Role of the Koch Brothers tonight is.... 

Money is always critical in a recall -- frequently, recalls are the most expensive legislative or gubernatorial races in the state's history -- we saw this in Wisconsin both in 2011 and 2012, and we saw this before in Washington in 1981.  I haven't been able to figure out the record for a Colorado state legislative election (paging the top-notch team of Colorado reporters!), but we are already seeing a lot of money spent on the two recalls. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stepped in to the Koch Brothers' shoes and been the focus of the ire of the recall proponents. He has put in $350,000, and much like with the Koch Brothers in Wisconsin, his role is arguably grossly overstated for political benefit (not to say that both Koch Brothers and Bloomberg aren't key players, just that the size of their role in the election is overplayed, especially as other big money donors who were ignored).

Billionaire Eli Broad has thrown down a cool quarter of a million. In 2010, Morse and his opponent spent a combined $281K, and Giron and her opponents spent $131K, so we are well past those figures.

The recall proponent aisle may be a bit more nebulous and tough to figure out. So far, we have heard that the the NRA has chipped in $103K. I've heard from reporters (and keep in mind, this is unproven third party gossip), that the recall proponents are spending most of their money from 501(c)(4) (aka dark money) groups and may not be easily trackable. This may be due to the the fact that the recall is an issue campaign, and not considered under the same rules general election.. So it is not clear that we will have any good accounting on the pro-recall side. Since this is an issue campaign, the amount of money raised by the Republican candidates does not tell any tale.

Single Issue recalls:
One of the questions that this blog keeps going back to is whether there is an advantage if the perception of who is launching the recall. It is frequently not a clear cut answer as to who is responsible for the recall (the proponents always want the recall to be seen as a independent citizen's initiative, the target always tries to portray the recall as a nefarious plot, either by a sore loser, the other party or monied interests). However, I would say that when the recalls most likely to fail are those launched by a perceived single interest group. We've seen labor unions launch recalls (in Wisconsin and in California in 1913). We've seen gun control groups push recalls. And we've seen them all fail at a higher rate than usual.

In reaction to this reality, we've seen an attempt (by both sides) to expand the scope of the recall question beyond gun rights. Giron has focused on abortion (and the strong anti-abortion record of her potential replacements). Others have hit on Obamacare or renewable energy. But this does seem to be a very specific interest group recall (the interest group being gun rights supporters, not just the NRA or a specific group). Will see if the possible pattern holds up.

Dogs that Didn't Bark:

There were three potentially critical legal challenges that could have reshaped or killed at least one of the recalls.

1) Both Morse and Giron last faced election in 2010, before the last round of redistricting. Yet (I believe) that these recall are being held before the voters for the newly redistricted seats, not the group of voters who elected Morse and Giron (I actually don't see anything that says which districts are being used, but the argument can be used both ways). This was an issue in Wisconsin, where it was ruled that the recall must use the previous seats (though Wisconsin had just passed a law mandating that ruling). I haven't seen any discussion of the pros and cons, but I have to imagine that the choice of pre v. post redistricting could have had a real impact on the results. In a litigation-filled recall effort, I'm not sure why this particular issue fell off the radar.

2) Petitioners handed in more than double needed to get the Morse recall on the ballot. 37.5% of those signatures were tossed out (which is fairly standard % in Colorado). However, the Giron recall had only a little 20% more signatures than needed. But the review showed a fantastic showing by petitioners -- only 6% were tossed out. This number is extremely low by any state's standards (15% is good number to use) and especially by Colorado's which appears to take a stricter signature standard than say California (Wisconsin law is very different). Petitioners have stated that they used the newest technology to ensure clean and correct gathering and the fact that it wasn't challenged certainly provides strong support for this position. It still seems surprising that Giron didn't try to challenge the petitions.

3) As with almost all recalls, Both Morse and Giron had the option of resigning in the first five days after the recall was fully certified (and presumably agreed to by the court). What makes Colorado's law odd and made this a real possibility is that they would have had to be replaced by fellow Democrats. It seems that a resignation would have been a win from a pro-recall point of view, and both officials obviously declined the option.

The Mutineers:
Despite numerous potential candidates for the races -- from a pro-gun Democrats to the Libertarian candidates whose lawsuits killed the mail-in ballots to an erotic novelist, the only candidates in the replacement race are two Republicans backed by the party. The Democrats have taken the route that Gray Davis wanted --vote against or the other side wins. It will be interesting to see whether there is any serious write-in campaign.

Party Line -- Is one party more likely to use recalls?
I constantly get asked about the party breakdowns of the recall. Most of the recalls are on the local level, where the position is elected on a nonpartisan basis. When there is a partisan position, the party label is frequently a misleading method to judge recall use, as many are not based on D v. R partisan motivations. Sometimes Republicans recall Republicans, and Democrats recall Democrats.

However, you would see both parties are not shy about using recalls (for example of the 14 state legislative recalls from 1981-2008, most were launched against Democrats, and ethics played very little role in those recalls). Democrats have launched the majority of the recalls last year on the state level, which makes sense as the lost power in 2010.

Republicans or their backers have not been shy about using the recall for partisan gain (for example, Michigan, 1983, California, 1994, 1995 and 2003). Same thing with Democrats (Wisconsin, 2008 California). So, which party is most likely to launch a recall? Simple -- the one that is not in office.

Blowouts v. Barnburners:
I wouldn't expect a blowout, but throughout history recalls have tended that way. Here's a look at some of the history of blowouts and some close races.

Man is opposed to fair play, he wants it all, and he wants it his way: The inevitable post-recall reform act

We have heard, and will continue to hear complaints about the unfair use of the recall. But these complaints can generally be dismissed out of hand. Why? There have been a number of principled opponents of the recall. Alexander Hamilton and William Howard Taft lead the pack in US history with their great dislike for the recall. Among modern commentators, the only one that I can think of is George Will. But they are few and far between.

Similarly, after major recalls, the first action by the recall opponents is to propose a reform to the law. Wisconsin has tried to do it. In 2011, Arizona tried to add a recall primary and other changes, and has has put a law on the books mandating strict construction of the law. Michigan actually changed its law following the successful Paul Scott recall in 2011 and has probably cut down on the amount of recalls in the state. Others have done same after a recall loss.

These changes rarely involve going to the voters (I know of one example on the local level of such a change being passed by voters). Polls keep showing complaints about the recall, but they are not born out by the results. In Wisconsin, one poll showed 70% of the voters opposed to the recall (60% wanted it used for corruption/malfeasance only; 10% thought it should never be used). Yet, despite that about 47% of the voters cast a ballot to toss Walker out.

We had a similar poll in Colorado, where almost 60% of voters opposed the use of the recall against Morse and Giron. The breakdown of the polls were very illuminating -- Republicans were much more in favor (62% for Morse; 47% for anyone for political reasons) of the recall than Democrats. The reality is that support or opposition to the recall depends heavily on whether it is an official from your favored party facing the voters.

Most of the people who complain about the recall are just really complaining about the recall being used against their side. In the past, Scott Walker signed petitions seeking policy-focused recalls. Bill Clinton was certainly not supporting the Gray Davis recall.

You want to know if somebody has a principled position on the recall? Look back at their positions on both the Gray Davis and Scott Walker ones. See if there is any consistency. What you will likely find is that the person just didn't want their candidate to lose, and they're hoping you either agree or just don't look into it.

Recall Survivors: Risin' up, straight to the top?
Surviving a recall can boost a career. Scott Walker survived and is now a major national figure being talked about in 2016. Dianne Feinstein won the San Francisco Mayoral recall against her in 1983. By 1984 she was being talked about for the VP and was the US Senator by 1992. California State Senator Jeff Denham survived a recall in 2008, and was then elected to Congress. Also, for what it's worth, filmmaker Michael Moore survived a recall before his career took off.

How a Resurrection Really Feels
Is a recall loss the end of a career? Not always. The most obvious example is North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier was the first Governor to be recalled back in 1921. He was elected to the first of the three US Senate terms 18 months later. Seattle Mayor Hiram Gill lost a recall in 1914 and was back in office the following term. We also have recent examples: Quartzsite's mayor Ed Foster was kicked out last year in a high profile recall campaign. He retook the office this month (from the man who defeated him in the recall).

No future, no future for you?
Another big question that I'm constantly asked: Will we see a cycle of recall revenge? I remember similar questions after Gray Davis was recalled, and in fact this has been a constant warning cry of recall opponents since the recall was first adopted over a century ago.

Now, there have been examples of repeated recall fights. A county in Michigan has had 340 recall threats filed in 20 years. In Alliance, Nebraska;in 1987-88, there were two mayors recalled in 37 days, and then the replacement (for the $575 a year job) faced a third recall threat. But there aren't too many of them out there, and certainly none on the state level (I don't consider the 1995 California fight to rank).

However, I think we will see the recall continue to expand, as voters realize that "hey, I can use that thing" and try to take out vulnerable incumbents on their own (or with party or interest group backing). The recall is finally having its moment in the sun, and it doesn't look like it wants to relinquish the spotlight so quickly.