I’m old school and believe that it would be helpful if someone worked their way through the ranks. When you join a well-established social organization that’s been around for a long time and has a large membership and you wish to become more involved, they usually don’t instantly make you the club president.
For a reputable organization, you usually work your way through the board chairs. This means you start out as a director, then perhaps secretary or treasurer, and then vice president. Everyone in the club knows you’ll be president the following year. And the members are looking forward to it because they’ve seen you in action, done an admirable job in your previous board positions, and now know the lay of the land.
Let’s apply this approach to California politics. When the recall last year of Gov. Gavin Newsom became official, the initial announced potential replacement Republican candidates just didn’t seem to have the customary experience qualifying them to be club president.
We had the former Republican gubernatorial candidate who had done an admirable job of unsuccessfully running for public office some thirteen times in more than one state but had never held an office in this state. With his name identification and self-funding, he would garner 4 percent of the vote.
As the filing deadline was approaching, I was excited to see one of my former legislative colleagues show an interest. He had worked his way through the chairs and understands how the organization called California really works. With low name ID, he would place behind the first two mentioned candidates.
We also had a former Olympian who was involved with a popular reality show and had very high name recognition. But this candidate had never been involved in the political activities of his own party before this foray, and could only muster 1 percent of the total vote.
I believe having experience is extremely important. If you look at the list of Democratic candidates in the recall race, I could not identify one that had any significant Sacramento experience. The one that received the most votes had a strong social media presence, but the California Democratic Party made sure no members of substantial statewide recognition ran as a potential replacement to Newsom.
In the final days of the filing period, a very popular conservative radio talk show host jumped into the race. Although he did not have Sacramento experience, he had something that the other 52 candidates did not have—massive name identification. Once he filed, it was game over for all the other Republican candidates. He would garner more than 48 percent of the vote, more than five times the number of the second place candidate.
Now, some nine months later, we have the primary coming up in June. There are 26 gubernatorial candidates, including the incumbent, on the ballot. Half of them are Republicans, with seven who ran in the recall. Whoever places second behind Newsom will be the sole challenger to potentially unseat him in the fall.
These seven candidates combined could barely garner 1.4 percent of the vote on Sept. 14th. They have no Sacramento experience. From what I can tell, other than some having successful businesses, they have never been in any public office during their careers. So, I scratch my head and wonder why are they even bothering?
I had someone remind me recently that in 2016, someone with no public office experience ran for president and did an admirable job at trying to drain the swamp, and that one of these candidates had the same potential for doing the same for the State Capitol.
This is a nice argument, but it falls flat when you realize that the last president also had built huge name identification over the decades through major real estate transactions, authoring books, self-promotion, and being involved in a successful national reality television program.
But for one exception, the thirteen Republicans running for governor on the June ballot have neither public service nor a public persona to make them stand out with the voters. Only one has Sacramento experience, having served as the former minority leader in the California State Assembly and now serves in the California State Senate.
I would never discourage anyone from running for public office. But they should be fully aware that it takes three attributes: experience, name ID, and a lot of money to compensate for lack of the first two. People prefer to vote for someone they know, trust, and has a track record that they can rely on. With only two months for one of the other candidates to build name identification on a wing and a prayer would be a very expensive proposition.
I would feel more comfortable voting for a sitting state senator who knows and understands the capitol. Voting for some well-meaning and enthusiastic no-name may be a nice thing to do, but it could possibly prevent the more experienced candidate from facing the incumbent. And with Newsom becoming the de facto king of California, through his use of executive orders, he needs a competent opponent.
Please do the necessary research to make an educated decision in June for who should be California’s next governor. If the only logical Republican candidate doesn’t fit with your criteria, then be sure to provide a very strong argument for casting your vote elsewhere.