Jewish World Review July 25, 2003 / 25 Tamuz, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
Voters can kick Davis out, but they can't choose
who replaces him?
The national media swarmed into town Wednesday to see when --
not if -- Secretary of State Kevin Shelley would certify a recall election
of Gov. Gray Davis for the ballot.
But Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante was the talk of the town, after
spokeswoman Deborah Pacyna told the Sacramento Bee, "Article 5, Sect. 10 of
the (California) Constitution states the lieutenant governor becomes
governor in the event of a vacancy."
Translation: Voters can kick Davis out, but they can't choose
who replaces him.
So, after Dems complained bitterly that the recall was a GOP
attempt to overturn an election, a top Dem was willing to deny voters an
Like other tops Dems, Bustamante has pledged not to run in the
recall. So Bustamante is willing to replace Davis as governor -- but only if
he isn't elected.
Returning my phone call, Bustamante distanced himself from the
Bee story. He said it was his job to call an election date, but up to
Shelley, the attorney general and legislative counsel, to determine if he
could become governor by default.
Get used to this: There will be many legal efforts to kill the
recall. And like this scheme, they will all become virtual orphans. Other
Dems ran from the proposal. Shelley, for example, said his "preliminary
view" was that the Bustamante trial balloon wouldn't fly.
The recall folks were happy campers. They got a big kick out of
pointing out that the banquet room at Vallejo's -- the Sacramento restaurant
where they were throwing a daylong recall party -- was named in honor of the
Cruzinator. And here they were, getting ready to feast on leg of Gumby.
Sacramento talk-show host Eric Hogue had started his morning
with a "free the signatures broadcast," just to reinforce the contention
that Shelley was deliberately stalling the certification process.
Hogue recalled how anti-tax advocate Ted Costa called into
Hogue's show one day and announced that he would start a recall effort.
Citizens started showing up at Costa's shop to sign up: A movement was born.
While the recall effort has been fueled by egos elbowing out
each other to take credit for starting it, Costa was modest when he visited
Vallejo's. "If I hadn't created it, someone else would have," he said.
Or maybe Costa knows something most of the right-tilting
supporters haven't figured out yet: That months from now, the right will be
saying: The recall? Fuggedaboutit.
For one thing, Davis could win the recall -- and emerge stronger
than before. The Los Angeles Times poll shows that most Californians oppose
a recall if there's no Dem on the ballot.
Meanwhile, it's not clear that the Rs have a candidate who can
Arnold Schwarzenegger has the money, fame and charm -- but he
may not run. If T3 opts out, his buddy Dick Riordan, Los Angeles' former
mayor, may throw his hat in the ring -- but as an independent who will make
nice with the Dems. Riordan is not what the recallers had in mind.
If Ah-nold and Riordan sit it out, and state Sen. Tom McClintock
(who filed exploratory papers Wednesday) doesn't raise millions, the big two
contenders could be -- Bill Simon, who lost to Davis in November, and
Darrell Issa, the millionaire congressman who put $1.5 million into the
Issa should bill himself as the "catch me if you can"
candidate -- the kid arrested (not convicted) for stealing cars who became
an auto alarm magnate. He's a high-school-drop-out-turned congressman -- a
great American success story.
Except Team Davis has done a handy job of painting Issa as a
shady CEO, and Issa has yet to seriously take on the smear campaign. Last
year, Team Davis did a similar job on Simon (who made it too easy for them).
If some new blood doesn't enter the arena, the only way the lineup could
look worse is if one of the recall-Einsteins decides, "Hey, maybe we can get
Ken Lay to run."
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate