No decision, 2021

Nine-year-old Tag, a 1,000-pound Kodiak bear, pads around the parking lot while recall candidate John Cox speaks to the press at a campaign event at Miller Regional Park in Sacramento on May 4, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

If you’re one of the 40% of likely voters who haven’t decided who would be best to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom if he’s recalled in September, you aren’t alone.

The California Republican Party is also feeling torn these days.

There was plenty of tumult and controversy leading up to the CA GOP’s endorsement meeting this weekend, but alas, 90% of the delegates opted not to back anyone at all. 

That came after party leaders — the very ones who proposed an endorsement process in the first place — reversed course in a last-minute letter to delegates.

It’s an acknowledgement that no single candidate was likely to earn the needed support of 60% of the delegates. It also reflects the changing state of play in the race: Once upon a time, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer was considered the party favorite. But then along came conservative pundit Larry Elder, darling of the base.

And what about John Cox, the party’s 2018 candidate? He wasn’t even in the running, putting him back in his comfort zone — on the outside looking in, as I write today. 

The state Democratic Party isn’t selecting a replacement candidate either, but there’s nothing undecided about it. Chairperson Rusty Hicks with the party line: “Leave Question 2 blank.”

Hicks’ directive is meant to sidestep some of the befuddling advice we saw during the 2003 recall campaign — who remembers “No on Recall; Yes on Bustamante”? But if the recall succeeds, it’s a strategy that could leave left-of-center voters without a voice in choosing the next governor.

Kevin Paffrath, the only Democrat on the replacement list with any degree of name recognition, is hoping those voters will consider him instead. He’s offering a $1 million charity donation if Newsom agrees to debate him.

FYI: I got an email from a reader — a Democrat — who thought that if she votes for a replacement candidate, it will invalidate her “no” vote on the recall, itself. It ain’t so! All valid votes will be counted no matter what you decide.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *