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GOP Recall Effort Against Machado Fails : Election: Democrat easily retains office. He was targeted because of his vote for Willie Brown as Assembly Speaker.

August 23, 1995|From Times Wire Services

STOCKTON — Democratic Assemblyman Michael J. Machado on Tuesday easily defeated a Republican attempt to recall him from office because he had voted for fellow Democrat Willie Brown for Speaker.

Returns from absentee ballots and 65% of the precinct vote reported Machado defeating the recall by a 2-1 margin--14,191 to recall him to 27,025 opposed.

Republicans launched the recall on grounds that Machado betrayed his district by voting for Brown after promising voters last year that he would be "an independent voice" in the Assembly.

"I decided he ought to be held accountable for being a liar," said recall leader Larry Bowler of Elk Grove, a Republican assemblyman from an adjoining district.

Machado, a 47-year-old rancher and former San Joaquin County supervisor, replied that he never said he would vote against his party's leader for Speaker, and that the recall is partisan abuse of a procedure intended only for malfeasance in office.

"Nobody has tried to hide the fact that I am a Democrat. I have said all along that I would do what I thought was best for the district," Machado said.

In addition to the recall question, Tuesday's ballot also included a four-way race to succeed Machado. But that election would take force only if a majority approved the recall.

San Joaquin County Supervisor Ed Simas of Stockton, a Republican who lost to Machado by a 1,994-vote, 1.5 percentage point margin last year, won 45% of the vote in that meaningless four-way race.

Both the pro- and anti-recall campaigns received big contributions from interests outside the largely agricultural district 50 miles south of the Capitol, prompting charges of outside meddling from both sides.

Machado's votes for Brown last December and January were crucial in extending the San Francisco lawmaker's 14-year tenure as Speaker for an additional six months.

Although Brown, now a candidate for mayor of San Francisco, stepped down as Speaker in June, the recall campaign continued to call itself the "Dump Willie Brown/Recall Machado" committee.

The election was only the sixth recall against a California legislator in 81 years. But it was the third in 14 months, and Republicans are pushing a fourth recall targeting Assemblywoman Doris Allen, who succeeded Brown as Speaker with Democratic support over opposition from fellow Republicans.

Then-Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti (D-Van Nuys) defeated a recall campaign by foes of his anti-gun legislation last year. Three months ago, Republicans recalled Assemblyman Paul Horcher of Whittier, whose defection from the GOP last December helped Brown retain the Speaker's office.

California Democratic Party Chairman Bill Press described the vote as "a message to the Republicans to stop the politics of recall."

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