Californians, Don’t Win the “Dumbest State in the Union” Title—Vote in Droves Against the Trump/Grand Q uanon P arty Recall August 30, 2021
Lately, there has been a tremendous “race to the bottom” in determining which state is the dumbest one in the Union. Three in the running for this dubious title are Mississippi, Texas, and Florida. All of these are GOP trifecta states where the governors and the state legislatures are run by “Team Red.” MS is at the bottom of U.S. states with regard to most economic and social issues. It has taken the lead in pushing its draconian anti-choice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision in that state’s favor by the Trump-packed High Court could overturn the 48- year- old “Roe v. Wade” opinion or severely gut it. MS, however, remains a small mainly rural state with just a population of under 3 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 7/2019 report. Florida and Texas, with many big urban areas, are way larger. FL has a 2021 population of over 21 million. Texas is the second largest state in population. It has a 2021 population of over 29 million, according to the U.S. Census (See also worldpopulationreview.com>states). FL, of course, is known nationally for its controversial and provocative GOP Governor, Ron DeSantis. He is strongly anti-choice. He additionally does his level “best” to fight masking and vaccination while the COVID-19 pandemic rages. He ignores the fact that the Delta variant of COVID-19 has severely hit his state. However, IMHO, TX Gov. Greg Abbott, who is far smarter than DeSantis, currently gives the Lone Star State the title of “dumbest in the country.” Just like FL’s DeSantis, he is anti-choice and is challenging MS for that distinction. Abbott, like DeSantis, goes out of his way to fight school districts ordering mandatory masking, and his hospitals too are overflowing with COVID-19 patients. Abbott does not push for COVID vaccinations and his state has a very low vaccination rate. As of 8/24/2021, only 46.6%, less than half of TX’s population, are currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19. DeSantis’ FL has 51.9% of its people fully vaccinated, while NY has 59.4 % of its population fully COVID inoculated (google.com, vaccination rate, 8/24/21). Abbott is also obsessed with signing a bill soon to be passed by the GOP-TX dominated legislature that strongly suppresses voting rights (See nytimes.com, Goodman & Epstein, 8/27/21). Abbott is, nevertheless, not as flamboyant as DeSantis and, therefore, many of his reactionary stunts fly below the national radar.
TX could still lose its “dumbest state in the Union” crown on September 14, 2021. That is the day that California holds its election to oust Governor Gavin Newsom via the recall process. If Newsom is recalled, the Golden State will be completely tarnished. CA would then win hands down the “dumbest state in the Union crown.” And Newsom, unlike DeSantis, Abbott, and MS’ GOP Gov. Tate Reeves, heads a Democratic trifecta with an overwhelming Democratic majority in both the CA State Senate and State Assembly. CA is a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2:1 (CQ Cong. At Your Fingertips, 117th Congress, Goffard, latimes.com, 8/28/21). Let’s look at CA’s wacky recall process and Newsom’s chances.
San Francisco (SF) native Democrat Gavin Newsom (53) is currently two-and-a half years into his first term as Governor of CA. CA is the state with the largest population in the U.S., with over 39 million in 2021 (worldpopulationreview.com.>states). He was first elected in 2018, clobbering GOPer John Cox by a humungous 24 points, 62%-38% (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac). Newsom graduated from Santa Clara University in 1989. He started a wine store on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street. He expanded his holdings to include bars, restaurants, hotels, and wineries. Newsom became politically active when San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown named him to the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission, and later to a seat on that city’s Board of Supervisors. He served on SF’s Board of Supervisors from 1997-2003. He successfully ran for Mayor of SF in 2003 and served in that office from 2004-2010. As mayor, Newsom erased SF’s $483 million deficit without disastrous closures. In 2004, before the idea became mainstream and was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Newsom ordered city clerks to approve same-sex marriages. Four-thousand couples took advantage of this new policy. However, before the same-sex idea became acceptable, Newsom was blamed by many Democrats for helping W Bush win re-election over John Kerry, and many in his party shamelessly “ran away” from him. Now, most Californians view Newsom’s stand on same-sex marriage as courageous and correct. Newsom easily won re-election as SF mayor. In 2010, he ran for Lt. Governor and was re-elected to that post in 2014. In 2018, as was previously noted, Newsom handily won the race for Gov. of CA.
As Governor, Newsom was a progressive and strongly fought Demagogue Donald’s agenda (See Cohen & Cook 2020). As Governor, Newsom went to work trying to tackle some of CA’s hardest problems. He used CA’s historic $14 billion surplus to fund programs to help individuals and business to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, build more affordable housing, house the state’s unsheltered, and prevent and fight wildfires (latimes.com/opinion, 8/13/21). Gov. Newsom supports universal preschool, two years of free-community college tuition, and single-payer health insurance (Cohen & Cook 2020). For a long time, Hispanics constituted CA’s biggest ethnic minority. According to the 2020 Cohen and Cook Almanac, Hispanics in CA currently outnumber whites. Hispanics make up at least 38.8% of the population, while whites constitute 37.9% of CA. CA is already a majority minority state. Asians are 13.9% of CA and blacks 5.5% of the Golden State (Cohen & Cook 2020). Newsom has been one of the most-pro Latino Governors in CA history. He prioritized high-risk Latino neighborhoods for COVID-19 vaccinations. He expanded college loans for “Dreamers” seeking graduate degrees. Newsom made unprecedented investments in public education that helped working-class Latinos, including initiatives to lower the cost of textbooks and cover two years of community college. He additionally backed COVID stimulus checks for undocumented Californians who have kept the state running as essential workers. He approved temporary housing for farmworkers who came down with COVID, as well as rent relief and tax cuts for small businesses. He secured health insurance for undocumented seniors (latimes.com, Guerrero, J., 8/25/21). Remember, many of these farmworkers and small business owners are Latinos. Disease, like COVID-19, makes no distinctions between legal and illegal residents, Hispanics, whites, Asians, or blacks in CA or anywhere else.
On the normal political calendar, Gov. Newsom would be up for re-election for his second and final term in 2022 (See CQ 117th Cong. At Your Fingertips). However, we live in very abnormal times, during a massive COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Californians, although a minority, still refuse to take life-saving COVID vaccinations and wear masks. Too many of them believe in conspiracy theories promoted by GOP/Trump Fox News types or others who ridiculously think that Big Pharma is “out to get them” with “untested” drugs. Many of these Trump GOP types want to keep this pandemic going to politically hurt President Biden and his Democrats in the 2022 midterms and in the 2024 presidential and congressional elections. Some of these anti-vaccination GOPers and their friends have died because of their refusal to use masks and get inoculated, but far too many in this group could care less and think they will survive. Unfortunately, this anti-vaccination and political extremist wacko crowd has been helped by what is known as the law of “unintended consequences” in getting Newsom to face a recall .
At the height of the U.S. Progressive Era in the early 20th Century, political reformers, including CA’s GOP Gov. Hiram Johnson, advocated the recall election. Gov. Johnson wanted to limit the influence of the super-rich and powerful Southern Pacific Railroad over average Californians and the politicians in its grasp. CA voters placed the right to recall a politician into their state Constitution in 1911. The obvious intent of the recall was to allow CA voters to remove corrupt office holders (See latimes.com, Dolan, M., 8/22/21). However, no specific restrictions on why a politician should be recalled were ever put into that state’s constitution. Any elected official can be tossed out at any time for any reason. Under CA’s recall law, voters must first vote “YES” or “NO” on whether or not to throw out a political official without waiting for a general election. Voters must then, on that very same ballot, pick a replacement to succeed the recalled official. Would-be-replacement candidates need only pay a $4,200 filing fee or turn in 7,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot (latimes.com, Goldberg, N., 4/30/21). And in order to survive a recall, the elected official, like Newsom, must get 50% of the vote in CA. However, an unelected official on the replacement part of the ballot need only get a plurality of the vote. A mere 25% of will do (latimes.com, Goldberg, 4/30/21). Under CA’s recall law, to qualify for the ballot, voters need to submit valid signatures representing just 12% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. In order to recall Gov. Newsom, recall petitioners needed at least 1,495, 709 valid signatures to qualify. They met that goal in late April, 2021 (cnn.com, Chan & Lah, 4/26/21).
Gov. Johnson and his allies failed to understand that “Big Money” could undermine all their reform efforts--“unintended consequences.” Money spent by special ultra-rich individuals and groups can bombard the airwaves, newspapers, and social media 48/7 confusing voters and convincing them to voting against their interests. Many voters have told pro-Newsom organizers and columnists that they have already become confused about the recall because of constant anti-Newsom propaganda (See latimes.com, 8/25/21, Guerrero). To get the Newsom recall on the ballot, at least $2.5 million has been “ponied up” by mega-donors. The RNC, Republican National Committee, earmarked $250,000 to reach CA GOP households and gave them links to sign recall petitions. Former GOP presidential candidate and ex-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee chipped in $100,000 from his political action committee to push this anti-Newsom recall measure for the CA ballot (latimes.com, Mehta, 2/22/21).
Since 1913, 179 recall attempts of state officials were attempted in CA. Eleven qualified for the ballot. Six incumbents were ousted and replaced by other people running on the same ballot. The most memorable recall occurred in 2003 when Democratic Governor Gray Davis was replaced during an energy crisis, manipulated by the crooked and later bankrupt Enron company and prominent GOPers. Davis’ replacement was popular actor Republican Arnold “Terminator” Schwarzenegger (latimes.com, Dolan, 8/22/21). In the Davis recall, besides Schwarzenegger, 134 other replacement candidates made the ballot, including a pornographer, sumo wrestler, and former child TV star (Goldberg, N. latimes.com, 4/30/21). Schwarzenegger heavily borrowed to put CA into debt. His successor, Dem. Gov. Jerry Brown, had to work hard to erase this deficit. In the Newsom recall, “only” 46 candidates are vying to replace him (latimes.com/opinion, 8/13/21). Several recall attempts had been mounted from the beginning of Newsom’s first term but went nowhere. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many people were upset that Newsom forced lots of businesses and schools to close and limited household gatherings. With these measures, Newsom kept the CA COVID death rate from getting near that of FL and TX. During this time, Newsom made one key momentary lapse in judgment. In 11/2020, he went to the high-end French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley and dined unmasked and not socially distanced with 10 other people in a private semi-enclosed outdoor room. Newsom has repeatedly apologized for this. He declared he should have turned his car away from this event. However, his opponents ridiculously made this action into a “crimes against humanity” firing offense. Less than two weeks later, a judge granted the recall’s supporters an extra four months to gather signatures, because of the pandemic. This recall effort, on the way to certain failure, was revived and took off. GOPers like ex-House Speaker/provocateur Newt Gingrich, who saw an opportunity to politically disrupt a “Blue State” they hated, also jumped into the fray (See latimes.com/opinion, 8/13/21).
The main organizer of the Newsom recall is Orrin Heatlie, a retired Yolo County sheriff’s sergeant. In 2019, Heatlie watched a video of Newsom telling immigrants they had a right to bar authorities who had no warrant from entering their homes. Xenophobe Heatlie went ballistic against Newsom. On one Facebook post by Heatlie, he declared, “Microchip all illegal aliens. It works! Just ask Animal control!” Last fall, Facebook removed Heatlie, giving him the equivalent of a lifetime ban. A Facebook official noted that the platform’s policies removes “pages and groups for a variety of reasons, including hate speech [and] incitement to violence (latimes.com 5/01/21, Rainey & Pinho).”
The 46 candidates vying to replace Newsom in this circus of a recall are mostly GOPers and utterly unqualified (latimes.com/opinion, 8/13/21). Leading the polls to replace Newsom, should he be recalled, is ultra-Trump supporter extremist Larry Elder. Elder may be black, but African Americans in the LA Times have aptly described him as the “face of white supremacy.” He is the face of Trump extremism to the tenth power, a xenophobe, and a misogynist to boot. Talk show host Larry Elder wants to reverse sanctuary laws, healthcare for undocumented people, and even birthright citizenship. He’s sought advice from the original xenophobe in-chief former CA GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, the Golden State’s most anti-Latino governor. Elder was a mentor of Demagogue Donald’s cruelest advisor against Latinos and other immigrants, extremist Stephen Miller, a fellow denounced by his own family (See latimes.com, Guerrero, 8/25/21). And the comments Elder has made against women and his fellow blacks throughout his long talk show career are doozies. Elder makes fun of Black Congressmember Maxine Waters with a recording of a barking dog. He has repeatedly stated that Blacks, “exaggerate the significance of racism.” Elder has called blacks “more racist than whites.” He has constantly twisted crime statistics to portray blacks more violent than whites, a white supremacist talking point. He blames black communities’ struggles on an alleged lack of self-determination, something KKKer/neo-Nazi David Duke parrots (latimes.com, Guerrero, 7/14/21). And then there is Elder the Misogynist with a capital “M.” He has argued that “Roe v. Wade” should be overturned, and has called it “one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court has ever handed down (latimes.com, 8/10/21, Rainey & Mehta).” In 2000, Elder wrote that women tend to vote for Democrats because they are “less educated than men about political issues, economics, and current events. He suggested that women who took part in the anti-Trump 2017 Women’s March were “obese and unattractive.” He stated premenstrual syndrome, PMS, stands for “Punish My Spouse.” He has endorsed pregnancy discrimination by employers. He has claimed that domestic violence against women is “exaggerated to promote feminism (cnn.com, 8/20/21).” In addition, Elder’s former fiancée Alexandra Datig accused him of abuse. She stated he demanded that she show devotion by having “Larry’s Girl” tattooed on herself. During an argument, she said he brandished a gun in a threatening manner (Marinucci, 8/19/21, politico.com, 8/19/21). You get the idea.
Elder has a history of making anti-LGBTQ remarks on Twitter (sacbee.com, Sheeler, 8/04/21). Elder wants to abolish the minimum wage and has declared, “The ideal minimum wage level is $0.00 (sacbee.com/news/politics).” Elder along with all the other GOP candidates, has pledged that if elected, he would remove current statewide public health mandates for requiring COVID-19 vaccine requirements and mask mandates (americanindependent.com, Gardenswartz, 8/27/21). So-called San Diego “moderate” (LOL) Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who voted for Trump, is also against such mandates. So is another GOP recall replacement candidate John Cox, whom Newsom crushed in his 2018 election (americanindependent.com, 8/27/21). Cox wants CA to follow what TX and FL have done during the COVID surge. What have they done? Added to the illness and death toll. In the week of 8/20/21, there were 58,688 new CA COVID cases, while DeSantis’ FL had 148, 544 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Apparently, Cox doesn’t understand math. What do you really expect from a candidate who goes around with a huge live Kodiak bear at his campaign stops? Is he planning to maul his opponents should he win? These GOP “wackadoodles” are not in tune with most Californians. Most Californians want mask and vaccine mandates. More than 2/3 believe health care workers should be required to get shots and 61% say customers patronizing large, indoor restaurants and entertainment venues should be required to be vaccinated before entering them (americanindependent.com, 8/27/21). Cox and his fellow GOPers want to do to CA what TX and FL have done to the nation—a leader in the COVID transmission and death count.
Do not take this recall attempt against Newsom lightly. Yes, according to a 7/2021 UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies poll co-sponsored by the LA Times, CA’s overall electorate found only 36% of registered voters in the state supporting Newsom’s removal, with 51% opposed (latimes.com, 7/27/21, Willon). However, elections are won by the “T” word, “turnout.” Measuring the likely voters who would come out for an election, 47% of likely voters wanted Newsom recalled, v. 50%, a statistical difference just shy of the survey’s margin of error (latimes.com). This survey showed that although GOPers make up 25% of all CA’s voters, they account for 33% of those most likely to vote in the recall. Democrats, who make up about 46% of the state’s electorate are way less enthusiastic about voting. If this enthusiasm gap continues and GOPers oust Newsom, the recall will be the GOP’s “go-to” strategy in many states. GOPers will be even more emboldened to recapture Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024. The national media will see Newsom’s defeat as a strong rebuke of the Democratic agenda and President Biden whom they are already wrongfully pummeling for the “not graceful” retreat from faction/conflict ridden Afghanistan. Democrats will find it very hard to pass Biden’s infrastructure agenda. And should a GOPer oust Newsom and 88-year- old Senator Dianne Feinstein retire or die, she will be replaced with a hard-core GOPer. That replacement will immediately flip the upper chamber “Red,” with a 51-49 majority (latimes.com, Calmes, 8/27/21). Democrats had to work very hard to win both GA seats in a Senate run-off to get a 50-50 tie that VP Kamala Harris broke to give them a governing majority. With Elder or another GOPer, obstructionist anti/Biden Mitch McConnell becomes Majority Leader just by appointment. This recall process, where a small sliver of the population can decide who wins in CA, is the only way the GOP can now win a statewide office in the Golden State. The GOP will use any tactic it can to press its anti-democracy Trump/cultist views on the rest of the nation. CA Democrats must vote in droves plus to keep Newsom in office. CA Democrats have their ballots now and must vote ASAP. I voted in this race just two days after I received my ballot. My fellow Californians must follow suit. As LA Times columnist Jackie Calmes noted, in this contest, “democracy is on the ballot.”