Without a superhero candidate, this recall is about Newsom – press enterprise
In 2003, the last time California held a statewide recall election, the electorate’s imagination was captured by Hollywood mega-star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gray Davis, the outgoing governor and a mere mortal, was up against the world’s greatest superhero and the reality was Davis didn’t have a chance to fight.
The race was not only covered by the Sacramento media body, it was covered by everyone: the state press, the entertainment press, the national press and the international press … everyone on the planet was loaning. watch out for this election.
In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump brought much of the same frenzied energy to his campaign as one of network TV’s biggest stars. Hillary Clinton, a very unpopular and divisive figure, has been unable to keep up with Trump and his seemingly limitless ability to garner interest and attention.
In Gavin Newsom’s 2021 recall election, it looks like no larger-than-life character will be on the ballot to run against him.
People initially thought Caitlyn Jenner could be that candidate. So far it is not.
To date, 41 hopes have taken the ballot.
I mean… what’s that, an election day ballot or the Cheesecake Factory menu?
The list of aspirants includes YouTube personalities, billboard experts, reality TV stars, and even elected officials.
For celebrity value, the field includes Caitlyn Jenner and Steve Chavez Lodge, whose introduction requires you to know he’s the main press of “Real Housewives of Orange County” star Vicki Gunvalson.
So far, Caitlyn Jenner has been running a California-style political campaign: she’s in Australia filming a reality show.
Candidate Kevin Paffrath is a YouTube star who wants California to build underground highways.
Candidate Angelyne is an aging pin-up who wants the government to designate an official Bubble Bath Day.
How could we get these two to debate?
Candidate Jacqueline McGowan, 46, Democrat, is a former stockbroker turned advocate for cannabis policy reform. It would reduce pot taxes and push communities to open their doors for more legal pot sales. She is expected to be successful, assuming her supporters remember what day they are supposed to vote and where.
Basically no one knows who is running against Newsom. And that’s kind of the point.
For months, many voters said that literally anyone would be better off. Now let’s find out if this is really true.
Conventional wisdom would have it favor Newsom. However, the current scenario might in fact produce a dynamic that poses a unique threat to his power.
By having a multitude of candidates who all come to the table with their own fan base and constituency, and none really stand out from the pack, it will be much more difficult for Newsom to make the election about them.
In a sense, Newsom lacks the ability to run against an opponent, which makes him this election.
And that’s a problem.
Newsom is traveling the state to talk about California’s “roaring” economy and why we should “never bet against California.”
But most of us also have two eyes and two ears, and we see what’s going on around us. We see the homeless, we see crime, we see how much Sacramento comes out of our pockets, we see how much school closures and mask warrants have damaged California children.
If Newsom’s strategy to win the election is to convince us that all is well in California – and we have to thank him for that – he’s in trouble.
John Phillips can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 pm on “The John Phillips Show” on KABC / AM 790.