Is California About To "Elect" A Deranged Hate-Talk Radio Host Governor?

People keep asking me why I'm not covering the California re-call. I think I have mentioned it a couple of times but I'm covering it about as much as it interests me. The recall leaves voters like me-- if there are voters like me-- in an untenable situation. I'd never vote for a neoliberal corporate Dem like Gavin Newsom, but I don't think it would be very funny if a neo-fascist dog like Larry Elder became governor-- or anything else. And he's the only candidate getting into the double digits. The way these idiots structured the recall, if the voters decide to recall Newsom, the gubernatorial candidate with the most votes wins. The Democratic establishment made sure there would be no viable Democrat running-- since that would have sealed Newsom's fate. So now, Elder could actually win this thing with 20-something percent and get less than half the votes Newsom got and he would still replace Newsom. As you can see below, I voted today. I voted yes on the recall, although I guess I could have left that blank if I was certain no one else would fill it in for me at the vote counting station. And I voted for Dan Kapelovitz, the Green candidate. It's not like I identify as a Green; it's just when the Democratic Party doesn't give me an acceptable choice, I would rather vote for a Green than just pick someone at random. And, besides, what I've read about Kapelovitz sounds really good.

I expect the recall will fail anyway, so from my point of view this is just sending a message. I'm not buying into the Democratic strategy that whines that if Feinstein dies, we'll wind up with a Republican senator. People concerned about that should have thought better of electing a worthless senile fossil to the Senate. Besides, if it matters so much to the Democratic establishment, they could pass a law that makes it necessary for the governor to select a new senator from the same party as the corpse, something Republican states do as soon as there's any chance a Democrat will be elected governor. How can I be so sure the recall will fail? I'm not sure; I just expect it to. All the current polling shows it failing and in terms of returned absentee ballots, of the 22,254,210 that were sent out, 4,656,564 (21%) have already been returned (not counting mine). Here's who got the ballots from each party and how many have been returned: • Democrats- 10,353,101 sent, 2,500,798 returned (24%) • No Party Preference- 6,551,917 sent, 1,034,119 returned (16%) • Republicans- 5,349,192 sent, 1,112,577 returned (21%) So much for the theory that Republicans are more worked up and more likely to vote than Democrats. In terms of demographics, here are the percentages of returned ballots: • White- 25% • Asian- 20% • Black- 20% • Latino- 13% • 65 and older- 37% • 50-64- 23% • 35-49- 16% • 18-34- 10% A few days ago, Politico reported that Newsom and the Democratic establishment are flipping out over the lack of interest from Latinos in the race. "[P]olls suggest this once reliable and fast-growing voting bloc for Democrats is softening on Newsom, even in this heavily Democratic state. It’s a reminder that Latino support for Democrats is not a given. If the trend holds, with even a small segment of the Latino electorate embracing the GOP, it may spell disaster for the Democratic Party-- and not just in California this year. The party in power typically suffers losses in midterm elections, and Democrats will need a robust Latino turnout in 2022 to protect its narrow majorities in Congress... In a recent CBS News-YouGov poll, Latinos, who represent about 40 percent of California’s population and about 30 percent of the electorate, were evenly split on whether to vote 'yes' or 'no' on the recall. In a Berkeley-IGS survey in July, 4-in-10 Latinos were ready to jettison Newsom." “If [the GOP’s 2020 inroads with Latinos in south Texas were] not a wake-up call for Democrats, I don’t know what is,” said Fabian Núñez, a former speaker of the California state assembly. “It’s one thing to lose Florida, it’s another thing to lose Latinos in the Southwest. And the lesson here for the Democratic Party is making the long term investment.” Nuñez and other Latino leaders and organizations in California say Newsom has done a good job in delivering policy victories for Latinos, and they are downplaying the polls. Some say, if the polls are right, the problem is more that Newsom-- and Democrats at large-- haven’t done a strong job in selling their victories or staying engaged with Latinos in between elections. “In the midst of this recall election, all we hear is how the governor is a tyrant-- putting mask mandates and [other pandemic-era restrictions]. But then on the Newsom side, it’s ‘this is a power grab.’ It seems Latinos are caught in this intergalactic power struggle where we don’t find our place in that,” Arana said. “There is no recognition of us, our problems,” Arana added. “And we don’t feel like we’re part of the solution.” For working-class Latinos in California, Newsom has, at times, appeared woefully out of touch. While encouraging Californians last year to avoid gathering for the holidays, he was photographed at a dinner party for a political adviser at the posh restaurant the French Laundry. Amid the recall campaign, he sold his $5.9 million Bay Area house. Earlier this month, Gustavo Arellano wrote in a withering column in the Los Angeles Times that “Newsom is about as loved by many Latinos as a stale Mexican Coke.” “The French Laundry stuff is really harmful in the Latino community,” said Amanda Renteria, who was national political director of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and who ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat in California’s Central Valley in 2014. Newsom, Renteria said, was “ahead of the curve” on disaster relief for undocumented immigrants affected by the coronavirus. He ensured high-risk Latino areas in the state were prioritized for vaccines, and he rolled out health insurance for undocumented immigrants over the age of 50. He also appointed California’s first Latino U.S. senator, Alex Padilla, to fill the vacancy left by Kamala Harris when she became vice president. “From a policy standpoint, if you’re judging, he’s been doing really great programs,” Renteria said. “But it doesn’t feel like he himself is connecting.” On Monday, the Newsom campaign began airing anti-recall ads statewide featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is so popular with Latinos he was referred to by some supporters during the 2020 presidential primary as “Tio Bernie.” And the campaign said it’s making an eight-figure investment in Latino targeting as part of a massive turnout operation, including text, digital and mail campaigns to increase awareness about the recall election in Latino households. Maybe if Newsom had been more like Tio Bernie policy-wise and ethically, he wouldn't be in this predicament now... and not just with Latinos. I spoke with Delano Mayor and Democrat running for CA-21, Bryan Osorio, who was sure to tell me that he is opposing the recall. He told me that "Like Arana and Renteria highlighted, I do believe there is a disconnect between Latino voters and the beneficial programs and policies Newsom has signed off on during the pandemic. When you have chronic poverty, unemployment, pollution, housing and food insecurity, and you combine those chronic problems with the pandemic, wildfires, heatwaves, and drought... there is bound to be disillusionment with the political process and anyone involved. Bernie Sanders, who won in CA-21 during the 2020 presidential primary, brought hope to Latino communities, because he offered policies that promised drastic change for working class families and struggling communities. There is currently unprecedented amounts of funding going towards different social and economic programs during this pandemic, and we need to make sure people are being helped. I hope we continue seeing this urgency following the recall and pandemic."

Mike Ortega is a first-time candidate running for Congress in Orange County. His opponent is reactionary Blue Dog Lou Correa. He told me that "It’s true-- players in establishment politics treat many groups of working-class voters like pieces on a chess board. They haven’t seemed to figure out that groups of people, like Latinos, are not a monolith and do not vote as a block. The Latino worker and the Latino farmer want someone who will fight with courage on their behalf. Our movement’s demands of Abolishing ICE, Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal jobs program speak to the needs and demands of the Latino worker in the US. It’s clear to me that fighting for these policies is how we can combat reactionary political movements. If you want the support of working people, you have to work with and for them to better their lives. Not only have elected officials not figured this out, but they seem to value their own livelihoods more than their responsibility to fight for us. When it was most important to make the right decision for COVID-19 vaccinations and the health of Californians, Gavin Newsom chose to hand off responsibility to Blue Cross Blue Shield-- an insurance company with no experience in the matter. The Governor gave our chances at a successful mass vaccination campaign and gave it to a company that has backed him financially-- a company that has always served more affluent populations. The results are clear-- establishment Democrats are on the side of the big businesses that bankroll them, and will help only those who can afford it. I’m running against a Democrat, Lou Correa, in the CA-46 Congressional primary, because he had the chance to vote for single-payer healthcare as a State Senator in California-- and he voted No. Today, his campaigns are funded by insurance companies (including Blue Cross) and he’s fighting against lowering prescription drug prices. It’s time to fight against this blatant immorality and work together to build a California and a nation that centers its working people."

Lizet Ocampo is an old friend who I work with closely in her capacity as political director of People for the American Way. She's about to leave for a much bigger job that we'll tell you about soon. This evening she told me that "The biggest gains and biggest opportunities for Democrats lie with moving Latino voters. We’ve seen that investing in the Latino community directly leads to significant increase in Democratic support and turnout. Too often Latino voters say they don’t have key information about what the Democratic party has done to help them and their families or even what the candidates’ positions are, but, once they do, they strongly support Democrats and are more motivated to vote. As we head towards the final days to cast a ballot, we hope that Latino voters hear loud and clear that we must turn out to vote NO on the recall."