On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]
Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.
It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.
When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic GOV. DON SIEGELMAN who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.
Siegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called STEALING OUR DEMOCRACY: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.
"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."
Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."
"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor. That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."
"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."
"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."
We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)
Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation; And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)
Finally, we close with a few calls from listeners in response to all of the above --- or try to, anyway...as we find ourselves forced to work to overcome a few phone hook-up snafus here at the station today...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)