There he was. California's last political master craftsman — San Francisco's dapper mayor Willie Brown — flailing his arms on one of those talking heads television yap fests, shouting that fellow talking head Bill Simon lost California's last gubernatorial election to Gray Davis and has no right to a second chance in a recall.
Simon, who has not declared as a candidate, could only smile at Brown's antics and repeat his Davis-is-a-liar spiel as the termed-out former assembly speaker railed away at the unfairness of the recall.
Recall-backers have turned in 1.6 million signatures to recall Davis. They need half that. Unfair or not, it will happen. Davis supporters are legally challenging the recall. They want to stall it because they don't want the recall on the November ballot. They prefer next March's primaries where they think Davis will have a better chance of survival. November, March, July or February, Davis is political history. Only the legislature's approval rating is lower than Davis' among Californians. Unfortunately, Californians cannot recall the state senate and assembly, therefore, Davis is da recall man.
However, no one wants Davis' job. The only declared candidate is San Diego congressman Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the recall drive. He finished dead last in a poll of six prominently mentioned Republicans. The 77-year-old former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan finished first; followed by Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger, then Simon (who beat Riordan in the Republican gubernatorial primary) and two other unknowns.
No Democrat has agreed to go on the recall ballot. They want to distance themselves from it, but more importantly no one in their right mind — Democrat or Republican — would want to inherit the financial crisis the state is facing. It will destroy whoever replaces Davis.
Democrats could win the recall if Davis resigns before the recall is certified since lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante, the son of a San Joaquin Valley farm worker, would take over as governor if Davis quit. However, Davis is not expected to resign. His ego won't let him.
If the recall were held today, Davis would get the boot and whoever receives the largest number of votes would become governor. As the only currently declared candidate, that would be Issa, an Ohio native with a youthful arrest record for car theft and weapons possession. In a recall, there is no runoff of the top two vote getters.
California is in disarray for two reasons; an unbelievably arrogant governor with an insatiable appetite for political power, and term limits.
Without term limits, wily Willie Brown would still be assembly speaker. The son of a Texas sharecropper, who undoubtedly learned the game of politics from Texas' best, and others like him would have a budget by now. Granted, Republican would like it. However, there would not be a $38 billion deficit. There would be no recall, no chaos, no layoffs, just backroom deals and political gamesmanship — and a budget.
Where's the likes of Willie when we need him: termed out of office all. Davis will be recalled, but the malady will not be cured.