Letter: Cynical Strategy

Letter to the Editor

Voters, do not be fooled! The ballot question about whether Governor Newsom should be recalled is not a referendum on his performance. It is a cynical Republican effort to win statewide power in a special election when Democratic voters typically participate in lower numbers than during regular elections. 

This is what they did in Orange County in 2018 when they collected enough signatures to qualify a special election for voters to decide whether or not to recall Democratic Assemblymember Josh Newman. The recall was initiated not because Newman was a corrupt or incompetent legislator, but because he looked electorally weak, having won his seat in the general election by besting Republican Ling Ling Chang by a mere 2,500 votes. As Republicans expected, the special election attracted disproportionately many Republican voters and too few Democratic voters, with the result that “only” 66,197 voters voted to keep Newman in office. 

But guess who replaced him? Ling Ling Chang was able to win Newman’s seat with only 50,215 votes, because she beat out the vote totals of the other five candidates running to replace Newman. How crazy is that, to have the person with demonstrably less electoral support than the incumbent be declared the one most deserving to represent this constituency? 

The Republicans were delighted, of course, to achieve electoral victory with only 33.8 percent constituent support. They are now trying to repeat that strategy in—count them!—50 recall elections this year throughout the state. 

Progressives like L.A. District Attorney George Gascon, City Councilmembers Kevin de Leon and Mike Bonin, and Mayor Daniel Steinberg of Sacramento are all being subject to recall special elections not because they are corrupt or incompetent but because Republicans believe that these progressive politicians, who are unbeatable in general elections, can be beaten in special elections when Democratic voter participation is typically lower. These cynical actions, supported by hidden moneyed interests, are the antithesis of representative government but Republicans are happy to represent minority interests, as long as they have the legal authority to thwart the will of the majority. So much for rule by “we the people!”

William McCarthy