California’s Jungle Recall

In 2010 California’s voters approved Proposition 14, which fundamentally changed how general elections are conducted in the state. Prior to Prop. 14, the general election ballot would include the names of every qualified party’s nominee. The new system created a so-called “jungle primary,” an open primary where all registered voters could vote for any candidate running regardless of their party affiliation, and only the top two finishers would move on to appear on the ballot in November.

The rationale for this, according to proponents at the time, was to eliminate the ability for candidates with extreme views, able to win in a primary contest against members of their own party, from moving on to compete in the general election. To-date the only result in California, however, appears to be the further destruction of GOP as a viable competitor in the one-party state. If the many state legislative contests that now just feature two Democratic candidates has resulted in winners with less extreme views, it’s not evident from the actions of the state legislature.

But California is about to experience a jungle free-for-all of a different kind, in the form of a special election that will permit voters to vote on a recall of Governor Gavin Newsom. The ballot will have two questions. The first will be “do you support removing Newsom from office, yes or no?” The second question, on the same ballot, will be “if voters remove Newsom from office, who do you vote for to replace […] Read More

How a New Governor Can Save California

The chances that California Governor Gavin Newsom will have to fight for his political life in a special recall election are nearing 100 percent. With signed recall petitions and donations pouring in faster than ever, proponents have already collected 1.4 of the 1.8 million signatures they’ll need to turn in by March 17.

This nonpartisan, grassroots movement against a corrupt governor and a corrupt ruling class offers encouragement to the rest of America. If a sitting governor can be forced to defend his record in a recall election in California, the biggest, bluest state in America, then there is no politician, anywhere, that’s immune from a recall campaign. And the tactics used offer precedent setting examples others can follow.

Typically ballot initiatives must employ paid signature gatherers. In today’s market these paid petition circulation firms can charge as much as $10 per signature, although the price can vary considerably. It isn’t unusual for a campaign to enter into an agreement that starts at a lower price, but as time runs out and – as is often the case – harassment by operatives hired by the opposition becomes more intense, the price shoots up into the $10 per signature range. For powerful special interests like Uber or Lyft, or the California Teachers Association, or various industry groups, paying this much for signed petitions is not a problem. But for a grassroots recall campaign, it is unthinkable.

Instead, neither of the two committees working on the Newsom recall have relied on paid […] Read More