Reality Check: Unintended consequences of dominos
By Geoff Metcalf
They said it couldn’t be done but Voters in California seem inclined to recall Gov. Gray Davis.
Despite the fact I have very dear friends involved in the recall effort, I think it is a HUGE strategic mistake, and if (God Forbid) successful will have long term negative consequences to the state AND the country.
If successful, the recall effort will result in handing the state of California to Democrats on a silver platter and doom the Golden State to at least a decade of unchallenged liberal democrat control. Some will say, “So what’s new about that?” A successful recall effort will also make a difficult but doable challenge for the Bush campaign a virtual impossibility in 2004.
The recent Public Policy Institute of California poll reveals:
48 percent of voters are willing to dump Davis.
41 percent say they'd retain him as governor.
However, the margin among likely voters was 51 percent to 43 percent in favor of recalling Davis.
Davis deserves to be recalled. He has been malfeasant, incompetent, and duplicitous. His popularity rating has plunged to a miserable 21 percent to 25 percent for good reason. One state house insider told me Davis is “politically bankrupt…with NO political capital.”
Seventy five percent of Republicans and Independents support the recall and even a third of polled Democrats agree. However, it is a major whoops that will bite recall supporters hard.
The survey results demonstrate the broad, deep and palpable discontent in California.
There are myriad reasons for the antipathy Davis has earned:
California has a monumental $38-Billion deficit.
Ronald Reagan pounded Governor Pat Brown for spending $1 million a day more than the state's revenues - about $5.5 million in today's dollars. Davis is spending $30 million a day more than the state is taking in.
Although aided by a complicit legislature, Davis is largely responsible.
He is arrogant, pretentious, smarmy, and lordly in demeanor.
Notwithstanding the money Congressman Darryl Issa is throwing at the recall effort, or the not so subtle posturing of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the cruel realities are neither will probably fill the void of a dumped Davis.
Consider the following:
Dianne Feinstein could and would clear the field of the gaggle of wannabe democratic prospects.
She is a deep pocketed, well-liked ‘moderate’ democrat who has been positioning herself recently to appear even more moderate.
As one political insider told me, “There is only one 800-pound gorilla in California politics right now and it is Dianne Feinstein.”
She is nearing the end of her political career and has been Jonesing for the Governorship since she was Mayor of San Francisco.
Feinstein doesn’t like Davis (she is still p.o.-ed over that Leona Helmsley crack) and still smarts over having been beaten by Pete Wilson.
So here is THE nightmare scenario:
Feinstein jumps into the recall alternatives and literally clears the field of other Democrats.
The monumental negative consequences for the state of California are to deny any republican (rich wannabe or famous actor) the first floor state house office for probably a decade.
As Governor she would get to appoint her U.S. Senate successor (for starters) .
She offers her Senate seat to Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante thereby ingratiating the Democrats further with the Hispanic community. Hispanics are the key to the future of the state.
Bustamante would become the first Hispanic U.S. Senator.
Attorney General Bill Lockyear could be appointed Lieutenant Governor to set him up for a post Feinstein gubernatorial run.
AND DiFi would also get to appoint a replacement Attorney General of her choosing.
California statewide politics would become the house that Dianne built.
The only statewide Democrat who doesn’t get a kiss is state Treasurer Phil Angelides…but despite huge money he has brought to the party, reportedly nobody likes him anyway.
The national consequences are also significant. And obviously lost or ignored on the recall questers.
If President Bush were to run in 2004 with California is disarray under the incompetent lead of Gray Davis, the conventional wisdom is he could actually (albeit with difficulty) carry California and it’s gaggle of electoral votes. HOWEVER, if the Dump Davis crowd gets their way, California will probably have a Democratic governor (Dianne Feinstein) who will play hardball to undermine the Bush juggernaut and California could/would be lost to Bush in 2004.
Sure there is a wildcard chance in the procedural mishmash of the ‘hey you’ election that Arnold could squeak into the lead and win (if he really wants it). After all with a no primary, no campaign, ‘pick one’ election, the winner of a deeply divided field could become Governor with only 300,000 votes.
If DiFi gets to actually become the Leona Helmsley of California it will not be because of superior political acumen but because of the epic myopia of the recall Davis crowd.
About the Author
Federal Observer contributor Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. . Visit Geoff's Web Site. While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!