Newsom and the Calif Dems may have outsmarted themselves by pushing up the recall election from November to September 14

It required passing and signing a special law for Governor Gavin Newsom's recall election to be held on September 14, 2021, instead of in November, as had originally been planned.  That was no problem to accomplish, for Democrats completely control both houses of the state Legislature and can enact any laws they want.  But a few are starting to wonder if it was a smart move.  The original thought had been that allowing Newsom's opponents less time to raise money and campaign would benefit him.  But now, as Joe Garofoli reports in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Now they've got to confront the problem they've created for themselves: Newsom has even less time to tackle a serious enthusiasm gap. Republicans are excited to give Newsom the boot and Democrats are ... uh ... not paying attention. (snip)

Berkeley IGS Poll in May backs up the possibility for a Democratic disaster. The survey found that 75% of Republican respondents had a "high interest" in the recall — more than twice the level among Democrats (36%) or independents (35%). Surveys by the Public Policy Institute of California found a similar divergence in enthusiasm.

The voting will be done completely by mail, which allows ballot-harvesting (legal in California), and that may do the trick for Newsom, especially if union members (unions run the state government for their own benefit) knock on enough doors and collect enough ballots.  But the ballots will be mailed out in mid-August, a time when many people are away from home and are not focused on politics.  It would not surprise me if a lot of ballots got thrown away with the junk mail when people return from vacation.  Not so many energized Republicans, but a lot of indifferent Democrats,

Newsom has a huge fundraising advantage :

Newsom has raised twice as much — $16.5 million through mid-June — as his top Republican challengers combined. He is already spending "multiple millions" every week on TV ads and has sent 9.8 million texts to voters since March.

And unions give him a manpower advantage:

The California Labor Federation's Smith said organized labor has been preparing for months to reactivate its field team. They're ready to put 5,000 to 7,000 volunteers on the street over the next few months to do over 4,000 miles of door-to-door canvassing, which "covers a huge chunk of the state."

But there are some wild cards:

Just because the recall is earlier doesn't mean the news will unquestionably be better for Newsom. Another COVID spike could shutter businesses again. The return to school could face unforeseen obstacles. Gas prices could keep surging. And, most likely, there could be a worse-than-ever wildfire season and power blackouts.

Back-to-school season will remind parents that their children needlessly were forced out of school for an entire year, as private schools, including the school attended by Newsom's kids, remained open without difficulties.

But it is electricity blackouts that Newsom must fear the most.  That, more than anything else, drove support for Gray Davis's recall.  And California, which subsidizes electric vehicles lavishly, is now telling residents not to charge their electric vehicle batteries at night because there is no solar power available then.  But people mostly use their cars during the day.  And unless they have a charging station at work, they may have no choice but to charge at night and maybe provoke blackouts.  

Then there is this stupidity.  Leslie Eastman reports at Legal Insurrection:

Newsom is now suing the state's top elections official in an attempt to get his affiliation with the Democratic Party on the ballot for the September election.

According to the lawsuit, the governor's elections lawyer did not include Newsom's party affiliation when filing paperwork with the Secretary of State's office 16 months ago. When Newsom's team noticed the oversight in June, they asked Secretary of State Shirley Weber to correct the mistake.

She refused and, according to the lawsuit, "stated she cannot accept [his party preference] without a court order."

... "The Secretary of State's office has a ministerial duty to accept timely filed documents," Weber's office said in a statement. "Acceptance of filings beyond a deadline requires judicial resolution."

Newsom may get a compliant judge to allow him to advertise himself as a Dem.  But he might also get one or more Dem opponents on the ballot (so far, there is none).  If that happens, he might well get some Democrats voting for the recall, in order to cast a ballot for another Dem they prefer to Newsom, who has not exactly endeared himself to voters with his French Laundry arrogance and general elitist/pretty boy persona.

If I were to bet, I'd want odds that favor the recall failing.  Those union door-knockers and ballot-harvesters will make a big difference in a low-turnout mail-ballot election.  But I don't rule out a surprise.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

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