California Dems May Put All Their Eggs in the Newsom Basket

Party leaders don’t want a replacement on the recall ballot.


When California Gov. Gray Davis faced a recall vote in 2003, then–Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante—like Davis a Democrat—presented himself as a potential new governor should Davis be recalled. The voters recalled Davis, and Bustamante was soundly beaten as a replacement by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now another Democratic governor is facing a recall election in California. This time party leaders don't seem eager even to hint that they lack confidence in Gavin Newsom's future as governor. According to NBC, no major Democrats within the state are considering doing what Bustamante did and running as a potential replacement:

Newsom can't run to replace himself. And he's pushing that no Democrat run as a "just in case" candidate.

"No and no," said Newsom senior adviser Dan Newman when asked if there will be or should be another Democrat in the race as an insurance policy. "Every significant Democrat has endorsed the governor and opposes the recall. There's little interest or support for it beyond that hardcore Trumpian base. So there's little need for a Plan B."

Perhaps a Newsom adviser is not the best choice to answer the question of whether any Dems are thinking of running. But Newman is correct that, at the moment, Democrats are locking arms and decrying the recall. That's an easy and risk-free decision at the moment, since the most recent polling shows only 36 percent of voters supporting Newsom's ouster.

When voters get their recall ballots, they'll have the option to vote on whether they want to keep or recall Newsom. Regardless of whether they vote for the recall, they'll still get to vote for a replacement, so the decision not to run a big-name Democrat could present a challenge should Newsom's numbers start to plunge or if the polls are off.

As the temperature heats up in California, there's a high likelihood of summer heat waves leading to rolling blackouts, both for safety reasons to prevent wildfires (given that the state has successfully held power companies liable for wildfire deaths) and because of environmental mandates that have made the state's power grid unreliable under stress. California has had an extremely dry year so far, and rain levels are far below normal all across the state.

If and when those blackouts come, the pundits may pay more attention to how it affects Newsom's poll numbers than how it affects the people who lose power. The Los Angeles Times notes that Newsom has said that these blackouts are the "new normal" due to the need to prevent wildfires—but when the backlash hit, he changed his tune and blamed the power companies for not clearing out fire hazards near power lines.

The Times also downplays a bit the effect that these power outages have while not completely dismissing them:

Shut-offs are a key tool to protect Californians and their homes from the threat of utility-caused blazes. But the practice creates other risks to public safety and problems for people who rely on electricity for medical needs. Prolonged outages also aggravate residents as basic services and simple luxuries, such as a cold refrigerator and an air-conditioned home in the sweltering summer heat, are taken away.

There are parts of California where temperatures will hover around 108 when these outages come. Dismissing a refrigerator and air conditioning as a "simple luxury" is a bizarre way of describing the potentially dangerous consequences for people who live in the state's deserts and not the breezy, milder coasts.

In any event, it's not actually the party's call if a candidate decides to run as a Democrat. The recall is essentially a big free-for-all. Any California citizen who meets the requirements to run for office may do so. Wikipedia lists six people who have already declared their intent to run as Democrats. None are remotely notable.

According to the same poll that shows low support for recalling Newsom, 48 percent of registered Democrats say they would like the party to put up an alternative candidates in the event Newsom is recalled. Only 29 percent oppose presenting Democratic alternatives.

The top candidates who have announced thus far aren't exactly burning up the polls. Republicans Kevin Faulconer and John Cox are sitting at 22 percent support each. Caitlyn Jenner's announcement has landed with a massive thud—only 6 percent said they were inclined to support her candidacy. Libertarian candidate Jeff Hewitt was not included in the poll.

Schwarzenegger had higher numbers in the months leading up to the Davis recall. Even so, only 31 percent said they'd consider voting for the actor three months before voters actually decided to vote Davis out. So those summer months matter.

NEXT: New York NIMBYs Protest the 'Manhattanization' of Manhattan

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    2. There’s something like 20 million registered California voters, so I expect 18 million votes against Newsom and 20 million votes for him and that this will be hailed as the cleanest, most fortified democracy in action election since 2020.

      1. Only if 18 million of Newsom’s 20 million votes show up at 4 am.

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  3. Dismissing a refrigerator and air conditioning as a “simple luxury” is a bizarre way of describing the potentially dangerous consequences for people who live in the state’s deserts and not the breezy, milder coasts.

    Do flyover counties even get to vote in California elections?

    1. Of course. How else will urban party bosses determine how many votes they need to manufacture in order to make the outcome believable?

    2. Yeah, but like 5 people live there.

      1. And they just throw those ballots in the shredder anyway.

    3. Flyover counties are not a significant part of the CA population. Gotta get the LA metropolitan area to be at least neutral on the recall election or it has no chance.

    1. I’m curious, but not clicking that link.

      Turkey about to go two fronts (well, 3 or 4 if we include Syria and Libya) with Israel and Armenia?

  4. “Shut-offs are a key tool to protect Californians and their homes”

    Interesting they convinced many that their serial abuses were good for them. Who’s the real domestic terrorists? The left.

    1. I lived in California for the first 42 years of my life, and somehow this “key tool” was never used even once during all that time. This business of claiming that the power has to be shut off to protect people is one of those incredibly obvious lies that the government has gotten so fond of. The real question is: why is it really happening?

      1. It’s not the fires. That’s bullshit. It’s about vastly increased population with no new power generation. That’s it in a nutshell. Gray Davis got in trouble simply because he was buying power from professional scam artists (Enron and pals).

        No conceptual problem buying power from out of state, but come the summer months those states will be in the middle of summer as well. We need more power here. We need nuclear power, as we’ve run out of convenient rivers to dam up and windy spots for wind turbines. Afraid of the San Andreas fault? Don’t build on the coast! Duh! All that cheap land inland. Makes cooling water harder to come by, but that’s a minor hurdle.

        1. And make no mistake, the Democrats will have this over the entire country with their “green” initiatives. Cheap and consistent power is not a priority for the Left, and they will gaslight why it is luxury in the world they are building.

        2. No, it is because PG&E was forced into bankruptcy a few years ago because they got sued for billions of dollars when a wildfire their equipment probably caused (admittedly their fault) raged out of control (the state’s fault, but they weren’t about to admit it). Ever since then, every time the wind blows, utilities think to themselves: is it worth selling a few tens of thousands of dollars of electricity to rural or exurban areas, at the risk of billions of dollars if something blows onto the wires and sparks into flames? Unsurprisingly, the answer is pretty much always no.

          The state ALSO has a problem with not having enough electricity in late afternoons, because it has become so dependant on solar, and that falls off in afternoons. However, that is a separate problem from the wildfire shutoffs. The former causes everyone to have a chance of getting their electricity shut off for a couple hours, and it rotates around. The latter causes everyone in outlying areas to have their electricity shut down for a couple days at a time.

          1. Don’t forget that California prohibitsClear Cutting under the transmission lines right of way.

            So sparks ignite brush fires.
            Every other state cuts a road under the lines so there is no brush for sparks to ignite

        3. I know a consultant who has a plan to greatly cut energy demand and simultaneously increase real estate values inland.

          I thin I his name is something like Alex Luther?

    2. They actually run PSAs in L.A. explaining that people need to better manage their electricity usage because the wind/solar sources aren’t producing power at high levels during the portion of the day when demand peaks.

      Hearing that as an engineer, I end up just wondering what idiot (not really wondering, I know exactly which idiots did it) picked an electricity supply that drops off in capacity at exactly the same time that they know demand is going to be peaking.

      1. You have hit upon my problem with every government planner. They determine what they want to deliver and then try to figure out how to convince people to live with the consequences. Rather than taking peoples’ desires as a given and designing around that.

        The one that must irritates me the most is when road expansion is dismissed as causing “induced demand”. Every single extra person who is now on the road has a reason to be there. Induced demand is a sign of success! Could you imagine if Starbucks told their shareholders “well, we could build more coffee shops to cut down on lines, but if we did that, the extra convenience would cause more people to come into our stores, so now we would still have too much demand.” Shareholders and consumers would rightly skewer management. Yet, in government planning circles, this type of thinking is common.

  5. Kevin Falconer was basically running against the SF School Board last I saw.
    John Cox’s grand plan to win an election he lost by 23% last time seems to involve abusing a wild animal and not much else.
    Caitlyn Jenner may or may not be serious, but it’s pretty obvious she’s being scammed by a bunch of the same grifters that were involved in Trump’s campaigns.

    All in all, people who want Newsom gone probably should have lined up a viable challenger before they got this boondoggle on the ballot.

    1. As a Californian I find your comment depressing but 100% true.

      1. Ditto. Still, if we can get the recall though, any of the challengers is better than Newsom. Even Caitlyn, forgawdsake.

        1. Careful. Lots of Americans voted for OPM Joe because “anybody” was better than Trump, and that’s just who we got…

    2. There is no viable alternative candidate in this state anymore. Too much power in very progressive Democrat areas has significantly shifted the already left biased media farther left, so if there was they wouldn’t get any press. And most people use tech platforms for their “news” instead of mainstream, which is super left biased. And manipulated, lots of bots and 50 centers making a mess of anything you can post in.

      During the Obama years, tech and banking were the only things making money and the power shift in Sacramento the last dozen years is significant.

      So lots of folks who might not be progressive are constantly told Republicans are only R because they are homophobists, racists and hate Mexicans, etc, and they believe it. Major press barely admits the fact that Republicans exist much less are popular everywhere outside LA and the Bay Area. Major press is major D. Notice how Jenner is the only “candidate” getting any mainstream news at all? They’re picking the most flighty, least serious candidate to cover on purpose. You can’t overcome that.

      But I still think it doesn’t matter, NO non Democrat will get elected. All the recall did was force Newsome to reduce his arbitrary restrictions earlier than he would have otherwise. Hopefully tarnishes his reputation when he wants to be President, too. It was worth it to me just for those reasons.

      1. “They’re picking the most flighty, least serious candidate to cover on purpose. You can’t overcome that.”

        This is what they did with trump and he ended up winning, and not being that bad of a president.

        1. You shouldn’t underestimate the potential willingness of people to vote for CJ just for the entertainment value of watching heads explode on both sides.

          I’d do it just to watch the Republicans scramble to validate using preferred pronouns while the Democrats try to rearrange their victimization hierarchy to align white transwomen in the same tier as ‘white’ Hispanics.

    3. Not a boondoggle at all. It’s probably why we’re getting the lockdown lifted as “early” as June 15. And it’s a good reminder to CA politicians not to screw too much with citizens.

      1. Thanks for the laugh, I needed that.

        CA is progtopia, and even China-style concentration camps wouldn’t change the power balance.

    4. I have some level of hope that Falconer can turn it around. He was a steady hand that righted the ship in San Diego after we had a total idiot for a mayor (for about half a year, that is how badly he f’d up). Not particularly ambitious or boisterous, but I like that in a politician. Will certainly be a contrast with Cox.

    5. I’m reminded of nothing more than the 2006 governor’s election in Texas. Despite Rick Perry being quite unpopular and two independent candidates getting on the ballot, he still won re-election handily because all opposition votes were split three ways between the Democrat and the two independents.

  6. The recall is in two parts: if more than 50% vote to recall, then Newsom is out and the candidate with the most votes is in. That would not be Newsom, which is why Gray Davis got more votes than Schwarzenegger but still did not win – he had been effectively blackballed.
    Republicans hope for a whole suite of ‘identity politics’ candidates running as Democrats. This would increase the recall vote past 50% and split up Democrat votes. It is not as hopeless as it would seem.

    1. Sorry for being a pessimist but it is pretty hopeless.

      12% chance according to betting markets.

      The GOP had to offer a viable choice that can point out what Newsom has done wrong, offer better ways of doing things, and at least appear be willing to compromise with progressives on progressive fanatic causes. I thought Faulconer fit the bill but his campaign is stuck in neutral so far.

      1. The GOP had to offer a viable choice that can point out what Newsom has done wrong

        ^ This. “I have a bear!” doesn’t cut it.

        1. I seem to recall bears being associated with the CCCP/USSR. Isn’t it basically the spirit animal of Russia – or something?

          I mean really it completely makes sense why it’s on the Cali flag along with the red star. I assume it will one day the star will move to a blue stripe under the bear to better emulate the DPRK flag.

  7. I know the week is still young, but still this is the best news all week!

    Still, the Republicans will manage to screw it up, as they always do in California. The adverts I’ve seen so far are dismal. The recall needs to be top and center, pointing out the reasons Newsom needs to go. I’m just not seeing them. All I am seeing are ads with bears, and ads claiming Falcouner is a closet Democrat. Ads about the recall itself are nowhere to be seen.

    1. I almost cried when I saw that stupid bear ad. Who would vote for some crazy old geezer running around with a bear? If John Cox wants to star in a Grizzly Adams remake the ad was great – otherwise that was the dumbest ad I’ve ever seen.

  8. Nobody wants to cross Nancy Pelosi. For all that the GOP is confident they’ve got 2022 in the bag, the votes haven’t been counted yet and we know who gets to count the votes.

    1. On a related note, Politico ran a panicky story the other day about how pro-Trump Republicans are running for Secretary of State positions in key swing states. Only George Soros’ lackeys are supposed to be able to do that!

  9. Prolonged outages also aggravate residents as basic services and simple luxuries, such as a cold refrigerator and an air-conditioned home in the sweltering summer heat, are taken away.

    That’s the plan. You’re about to learn how much electricity you need versus how much electricity you want. For all you people who scoff at the idea that wind and solar can possibly replace fossil fuels, oh yes it can. And it will. Why do you think they’re intent on stopping new fossil fuels plants from being built before there’s any alternative to fossil fuels ready yet? Because they’re not interested in building alternative plants, either. They’re nor replacing your electricity, they’re getting rid of it.

    It’s like Herr Hitler has offered you a free train ride to a resort destination and told you not to worry about your luggage because he’s got a new wardrobe waiting for you when you get there and all you can think of is how does he know everybody’s sizes?

  10. >>Shut-offs are a key tool to protect Californians and their homes from the threat of utility-caused blazes.

    LA Times as authority figure is ridiculous.

  11. California’s blue, blue, blue. Not sure why any Republican there’s wasting his time and money running.

    1. It’s a vicious circle – only a moron would run in CA as a Republican, and so only morons do.

      1. See, this is what I don’t understand. If it is true that California is tilted so far to the left, why can’t Republican candidates be competitive in the state as basically “right-wing Democrats”? Or – gasp – libertarian-leaning? If there are SO MANY more leftwing people than rightwing people in California, why are Republican politicians even listening to the tiny rightwing base and instead trying to chase the more conservative members of the leftwing base? Or forming a type of coalition?

        1. I mean, the successful ones don’t. Falconer basically sidestepped any questions about Trump and worked with the Democratic city council majority to find areas of compromise/agreement.

        2. Because, even if you manage to be middle of the road enough and have enough name recognition to overcome the ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.’ label the media has successfully tarred all Republicans with for the last 60 years (despite the gross historical and factual inaccuracy of it), then the elections board in the urban centers will make damn sure to find the votes needed to elect the Democrat.

          Washington State – been there, done that, have the T-shirt.

          1. If you don’t know who was elected in California in the past 40 years, which is a shorter time period than 60 years, you should probably not claim that you do. Below is a list of Governors that I recall and probably voted for.
            1983: Dukemajan a Republican. Followed by Pete Wilson. A Republican. Followed by Gray Davis, a Democrat who was recalled. Replaced by Schwarzenegger, a Republican. Followed by Jerry Brown, a Democrat. Followed by Newsom, who is on his first term. Oh and Ronald Reagan was a very popular Governor who was around in the past 60 years, from 1967 to 1975. You idiots have your “narrative” of what California is, but most of you don’t know shit.

  12. Jeff Hewitt? Oh come on LPCA! I know he’s the only elected official you guys have out there, but the sexual harassment claims against him (one resulting in a taxpayer-paid settlement of $50k against him) should be automatically disqualifying in a state as “woke” as CA… or is the LPCA deliberately running a pig to stick it in the collective eye of the woke? I predict statewide he’ll be hard-pressed to break 900 votes.

  13. I’m surprised the writer didn’t mention the reason for the paucity of Democrat candidates: the entire party machine set out to, and did, destroy Bustamente’s career after he ran to replace Davis.

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  15. At this point, 99% of candidates would be better than Gavin Newsom.

  16. Democrats are dyslexic when it comes to effective leadership. That’s why they love the profoundly incompetent and ineffective Gavin Newsom.

    1. Democrats fail upwards.

  17. Maybe he will use the Federal bailout money to offer every Ca resident a gift certificate to the French Laundry restaurant to ensure his reelection.

    1. The $600 checks he sent out would probably buy a nice dinner there.

  18. Most of you on the message board don’t live in California. So you just don’t get it.
    Sure people are pissed at Newsom. And for good reasons. The cost of housing in this state is outrageous, yet all Newsom seems to care about are the homeless.
    Many Californian’s are moderates, and they would consider voting for a Republican candidate, except the whole redneck revolt thing on January 6th is just a stinking pile of shit that many can’t get over. Including myself. So most will probably vote against the recall, because the alternative is to vote for some crazy conspiracy minded Trumptard. So, the Democrats betting it all on a no for recall is not as crazy as it seems. Prior to January 6th, I thought it would be easy to recall and replace Newsom. But not now. The Republicans are their own worst enemies. They still are shoving their tongues up Trumps anus. Nasty! However, the proof is in the pudding, and we will see how this rolls out after the election.

    1. I live in California and you are being ridiculously unfair to the CA GOP. Falconer, among others absolutely can’t be called a Trumptard.

      Also, what GOP politician from any state supported the Jan 6 riot? Literally nobody of any consequence is supporting them.

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