Tuesday, April 6, 2021

California: Two Birds with One Recall -- The big upside for Gavin Newsom and the GOP's Dylan Quote-off dilemma

I have an op-ed in the USA Today (thanks to the great editors there) examining the high risk/high reward nature of the Newsom recall. Expanding a little on it here:

So far, the Republicans (who, it should be noted are not all of the petitioners, but clearly the vast majority) seem to be viewing the recall as a "when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose" event. The party has been driven so low, that might as well roll on the dice on the recall.

However, there's another, more recent Bob Dylan quote that may be applicable, namely: "when you think that you lost everything, you find out you can always lose a little more."

One new factor of this recall is it is coming right before Newsom's reelection run. Walker's recall was a year and half into his term; Davis' was in the first year (and he was term-limited); Lynn Frazier in 1921 only had a two-year term, and it was half through. So what does this mean?

Quite possibly, if Newsom racks up a big victory (and recalls have many blowouts) what happens in 2022? Newsom will have already spent an enormous amount of money burning his name into the brains of all Californians. He is getting to road test his machine. Who is looking to challenge Newsom in this reelection run if the biggest names just got stomped on the recall? 

The impact is not just on the reelection race, but a poor top of the ticket could greatly impact races down ballot -- remember that in 2018, the Republicans did not even have a candidate in the final Senate race. 2018 was a disaster for the Republicans. As I note in the article, 2020 was a fairly good result in California, all things considered, enough to almost get the party back control of the House. Could the recall cost the four seats that the GOP recaptured in 2020 (though one seat is likely lost to reapportionment)? And is that enough to cost them control of the House? Weirder things have happened.

On more state-wide level, the 2003 recall may be looked at fondly by the Republicans, but it certainly didn't help them. Since Schwarzenegger's  2006 reelection run (and their victory in the Insurance Commissioner race against cautionary tale Cruz Bustamante), they have faded to irrelevance in the state. Will this help reverse it or are they just digging deeper? The importance of California is a story for another day (and hopefully another op-ed), but until they start reversing, the party -- both in the state and nationally -- may continue to be pushed further into the minority. 

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