The recall gets benched, by the Bench. Will it be more fun in March after Gray Davis has to present a budget?
8:20 AM, Sep 16, 2003 • By BILL WHALEN
(1) Is Sooner Better for Gray? Conventional wisdom says that delaying recall until the March primary is Governor Davis's insurance policy--because of a bigger Democratic turnout and a public supposedly less interested in recall. But the argument can be made that Davis might prefer an October 7 vote. Over the next three weeks, Davis can hold bill-signing ceremonies featuring whatever legislation he cherry-picks from bills just sent to him by the now-in-recess legislature. It's the perfect means for rallying the party faithful. But if recall is postponed, Davis then has to draft a budget and present it next January. Either he picks a fight over taxes and spending, or he offers a milquetoast plan that reminds Californians of why they dislike their risk-averse governor.
(2) For Tom McClintock, A Time for Choosing. The conservative state senator is up for re-election in November 2004. That leaves him with a choice in March: abandon the seat and run for governor; exit from recall and focus on the day job; or seek both offices at the same time. McClintock's people say they've reviewed the law and contend their man can legally justify running for two offices on the March ballot, if recall is postponed. But remember, Cruz Bustamante started to slide when he split hairs over moving money between campaign accounts.
(3) "I'll Drive." That's a line from "Terminator 3," and it may be Arnold's salvation if recall is put on ice. By March, Republicans would need an added incentive to increase their turnout. Help could come in the form of a referendum to undo the controversial new law giving drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. The referendum needs only 400,000 signatures. Arnold has the money to make that happen, then he could ride the issue a la Pete Wilson and Proposition 187 in 1994.
(4) The More the Merrier? At present, the recall ballot includes 135 names--those Californians who filed at least 59 days before the scheduled October 7 election date. You know the lineup--the action star, the porn star, etc. But if recall moves to next spring, does that create a second window, with a deadline just after New Year's, for candidates to enter the March 2 election? With the fall TV season about to kick off, the timing couldn't be better if you're a "Joe Millionaire" loser or "Survivor" castaway. Sounds like a matter for the courts to decide--heaven help us if it's the 9th Circuit.
Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he follows California and national politics.