Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Recall Effort Hurts the State

February 14, 2003

Gov. Gray Davis barely won reelection last November and his poll ratings continue to drop as the state's budget crisis deepens. Democrats think he has abandoned them and Republicans want nothing to do with him. He's got so many enemies that some in the GOP have begun a recall campaign against him. Will that solve anything? No. In fact, the chaos and bitterness of a recall campaign would only delay the difficult decisions needed to bring the state budget into balance.

Two groups are behind the recall effort. One is People's Advocate, directed by anti-tax crusader Ted Costa, who has the backing of outgoing Republican state Chairman Shawn Steel. The other is led by former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, a Republican from San Diego County, assisted by Sal Russo, who helped manage the unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign of Bill Simon Jr.

The recall drive springs from the rightward edge of the Republican Party, a parentage that would normally limit its appeal. But this effort is growing legs. There are reports that former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a moderate who ran in the GOP primary against Davis, is considering joining up. Even leaders of the state teachers union, still furious over budget cuts, are said to be interested.

Patrick Caddell, a onetime pollster for Jimmy Carter, thinks a recall could be "a reinvention of the old California progressive movement to clean up the state," according to political commentator William Bradley. Truly, a recall makes for strange bedfellows.

To get to a vote, nearly 900,000 registered voters would have to sign recall petitions in a 160-day period. A recall vote would include a vote on a successor. But that's getting ahead of the game. Virtually every modern California governor has been targeted by some recall effort, but none has ever made the ballot.

Organizations that might lend credence to this campaign should consider the damage it could do. Yes, Davis did fudge the severity of the budget problem until after his reelection. Yes, he continues to work poorly with the Legislature. But the complaints do not add up to the malfeasance for which a recall should be reserved. The ugly partisanship at the root of this campaign threatens the state far more than Davis.

The recall is still mostly contained to insider plotting in Sacramento. Voters in the rest of the state will surely have more sense than to take the buzz too seriously.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|