A Review of the California Recall

September 21, 2021 Updated: September 22, 2021


The nation has seen three major gubernatorial recalls of note in the last two decades—two of them in California and one in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, the public employee unions went after Gov. Scott Walker and failed to remove him from office. In 2003, Californians had their fill of Gov. Gray Davis and the unions failed to protect him.

By their very nature, recalls have a massive randomness to them. When Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped into the race to replace Davis, it probably sealed the sitting governor’s fate and Davis became one of only two governors to be recalled in our country’s history. This was big news. Walker winning was also big news.

Newsom winning is not big news. Sacramento’s public employee unions have become much more powerful and have amassed egregious amounts of money from dues to make sure their friends get into and stay in office. They can take the credit for creating a one-party state.

The recall probably provided the impetus for massive raises and bonuses for union members. Newsom would approve a memorandum of understanding that gave pay increases, and the unions would provide a very generous contribution to his campaign to counter the recall.

In the randomness, one candidate jumped in that provided a Schwarzenegger-like repeat scenario. Larry Elder’s entry just before the closing of the filing period was a major game changer.

There is a phrase, “What if they started a war and no one showed up?” The Democrats did an effective job to make sure they did not have a strong candidate as an alternative should the recall succeed. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could have been a major factor had he jumped in, especially with California’s large Hispanic community.

Republicans are less disciplined, and that’s why there were so many of them in the hunt. And after Elder jumped in, none of them stood down, except for Doug Ose, but that was due to a heart attack. I received emails from Republican nobodies for Governor who couldn’t even achieve one half of one percent of the overall vote. What explains this self-righteous and ignorant behavior?

With the successful recall of Sen. Josh Newman a couple of years ago, the Democratic supermajority in the state’s legislature has made the recall process extremely difficult. Consequently, the date of the recall was delayed due to newly mandated procedures. After they were completed, the actual date was set to provide for a very short election period.

I would suspect this was done to: one, have the election completed before Newsom had to sign the massive number of bills that were sent to his desk by the September 10th close of the legislative session; and two, before a strong and credible campaign for an affirmative vote could be mounted.

Newsom has already signed SB 9 and 10, two very troubling bills for local land management. So, who knows what other inappropriate bills he will sign before the end of the month, because he will not have to worry about voter reactions until November of next year, long after they will have been forgotten.

A short election cycle also required Elder to deal with an instant campaign. Hiring consultants and raising funds in such a short window is enough to make a normal person’s head explode.

The Republicans ran a Jewish candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002: Bruce Herschensohn. He was brutalized. Now the Republicans ran a black candidate for major office and Elder was unmercifully attacked. So much for liberal concern for members of the black and other minority ethnic communities.

Even with the acrimony and false labeling Elder received, the recall passed in nearly 28 of California’s 58 counties. And Elder was the highest vote getter in all but one of them, receiving more than 47 percent (more than 5 ½ times the next Republican candidate). One look at the color-coded map on the Secretary of State’s website and you’ll see that California can be easily split in two, North and East and West and South.

In the south, the newspaper with the largest subscription base in the state—the Los Angeles Times—was apoplectic. It went after Elder incessantly, to the point of demonizing him, and provided minimal balance in their coverage of the race. The OC Register stood out by endorsing Elder. Thank goodness for an editorial board that still maintains a libertarian bent. But the need for a good conservative leaning newspaper is very evident.

Overall, it is quite apparent that most California’s voters are dysfunctional and codependent upon miserably failing liberal policies. The list of what ails California is too long to rehash here, but the out-migration data should speak for itself. Regretfully, the codependent majority voted for the disappointing and floundering devil that they knew over the conservative voice that they did not get the chance to really know.

With only one-quarter of the state being registered Republicans, having more then 36 percent of the vote approving the recall reveals that this was not a “Republican recall.” Many independents have also had their fill. More than $80 million in spending to oppose the recall cost about $13.50 per vote. Not a cheap date, but at least Elder forced the public employee unions and wealthy liberals to fork over a boat load of money.

Based on fiscal status, of the bottom ten states in this nation, only the voters of California used their direct democracy abilities to say they’ve had enough. “Let my people go” comes to mind. A frog trying to jump out of an ever-hotter pot also does. Those of us who haven’t left yet made a strong and bold statement. They may be ready to make another one next year by gathering enough signatures to put another school choice initiative on the November ballot.

If the Golden State’s failing governor and legislature don’t realize that the natives are truly restless, then the public employee unions can expect to counter more direct democracy, as voters utilize the tools provided them more than 100 years ago when Republican Hiram Johnson was governor of California: propositions, referendums and recalls. And it’s about time the financial largesse of these unions, at taxpayer expense, is depleted.

For the some 3.5 million who casted their votes for the recall, thank you. Acquiescing is for sissies. Addressing the nonsense in the voting booth was necessary, and I’m proud of you for sending a message to Sacramento. We can only hope that it sinks in.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Moorlach is a former Orange County Supervisor who most recently served as a state senator. He previously spent 12 years as Orange County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector, and led the county out of bankruptcy.