"For the September 14, 2021 Gubernatorial Recall Election," according to the CA Secretary of State's Quick Facts Sheet [PDF], "all active registered California voters will receive their ballot in the mail." The ballot will contain two questions: (1) Whether California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom shall be Recalled, and (2) if Recalled, which of 46 official candidates should succeed him. Voters are expected to complete both parts of the ballot, even if they vote "NO" on the first question, though it is not a requirement.
California residents, who are 17-years old but will turn 18 on or before Sept. 14, can pre-register to vote. Otherwise eligible voters, who are not yet registered, can register to vote within 14 days of the Recall Election (by August 30) in order to receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot. Or, they can fill out a Conditional Voter Registration at the polls during either early, in-person voting or on Election Day.
For the reasons set forth in my July article, "Now May Be a Good Time to Reform or Eliminate California's Gubernatorial Recall System", this progressive believes the answer to question (1) of the ballot is simple and straightforward. I'll vote "NO" only because the ballot does not contain the option to vote "HELL NO!"
This GOP-initiated Recall, which, per the California Voters' Guide, will cost state taxpayers an estimated $246 million, is the product of a purely partisan abuse of the Recall process. It was engineered by an increasingly authoritarian and immensely unpopular Republican Party --- a Party which hasn't won a statewide election in California since 2006; a Party that accounts for less than 1 in 4 registered CA voters; a Party which lost the last Presidential Election in the Golden State by more than 5 million votes; a Party that knows its only prospect for winning lies in what it hopes to be a low turnout, Special Recall Election. It's a cynical divide-the-vote-among-multiple-and-largely-unknown-candidates strategy that could potentially allow an otherwise unelectable Republican to prevail.
In recent television ads, sponsored by state Democrats and labor unions, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) described what will take place on Sept. 14 as a "Republican Recall". Question (2) on the ballot reflects the accuracy of that assessment. Out of a total of 46 candidates on the second part of the ballot, 24 are Republicans. One other candidate, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, is a Libertarian --- the Party that embraces the deceptive ideology of the infamous Koch Brothers and hard-right ideologues like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
The difficult decision for progressives is how to unite behind only one of the 21 remaining candidates so as to avert the disaster that could ensue if more than 50% of the electorate vote to recall the incumbent Governor, as recent polling suggests a very tight race on the ballot's first question.
Allow me to explain why the election of either of the two leading question (2) candidates --- Democrat Kevin Paffrath and Republican Larry Elder --- both represent a clear and present danger if Newsom is recalled on question (1). Then, I'll share my conclusion --- along with information on each of the non-Republican/Libertarian candidates on the ballot --- as to why Green Party Candidate Dan Kapelovitz, an ardent opponent of the "Republican Recall", who is running only to avert disaster should the Recall succeed, is the candidate Democrats and progressives would do well to support...
[Disclaimer: The opinions set forth here are solely those of the author and should not be construed as an endorsement of any one candidate by The BRAD BLOG.]
Dangerously bad top choices
Where earlier polls suggested Californians would reject the Recall by a wide margin, a recent SurveyUSA poll conducted for the San Diego Union Tribune found that 51% of those surveyed intend to vote "yes" to recall the Governor. That same poll found the Democrat Paffrath, at 27%, led all other candidates, including the second place right-wing radio shock jock Republican Elder, who garnered 24%.
Given that Elder, the anti-choice, Trump-loving right-winger, has gone so far as to refer to climate change as a "crock" and expressed the belief that the ideal minimum wage should be "$0.00" --- slavery? --- an unsuspecting progressive might come to believe that the little-known Paffrath's lead over Elder is good news. It isn't.
On his LinkedIn Profile, Paffrath, a 29-year old real estate developer, boasts that he's a "self-made millionaire with a net worth of over $20 million". As revealed by L.A. Magazine, Paffrath's lack of empathy for those less fortunate than he is reflected by his extraordinarily callous approach to homelessness. Paffrath wants the National Guard to round up the unhoused and deposit them...somewhere.
UCLA Law Professor Gary Blaisi described Paffrath's proposal as "the poorest substitute for a policy on homelessness that I've seen in 38 years," according to L.A. Magazine.
This site recently published The Legal Case for Compulsory Vaccinations --- a case that was bolstered on August 12 when the U.S. Supreme Court summarily rejected a legal challenge to an Indiana University mandate that, with limited exceptions, requires all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Gavin Newsom was the first Governor to impose a mandate that all State employees either receive COVID vaccinations or be repeatedly tested. Anyone, who is not taken in by dangerous right-wing disinformation, should appreciate that this bold and decisive decision underscores one of the reasons why Newsom is one of the best and most responsible Governors in the nation. Recently, Newsom imposed the same mandate for both public and private school teachers and employees. This past week, under Newsom's leadership, the CA Department of Health issued an order that all visitors to patients inside hospitals must meet the same COVID vaccination criteria.
Epidemiologists are clear on the medical need for COVID mask and vaccine mandates. The federal government's top COVID advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, for example, recently asserted that, absent mass vaccinations, we will be furnishing this deadly virus with an "ample opportunity" to mutate --- a potential that could lead to variants that may ultimately defeat the current vaccines.
Sheer idiocy! Would anyone think it a bright idea to make texting-while-driving "optional"?
We are already seeing the deadly results that flow from Governors who defy the science of epidemiology. Florida's population, 21.6 million, accounts for approximately 6.4% of the total U.S. population. Yet, as a result of the anti-science edicts pronounced by the Sunshine State's Trump-supporting Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida now accounts for more than 19% of all new COVID cases in the U.S.
Make no mistake. There are deadly consequences linked to the refusal to mandate COVID vaccinations. According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the unvaccinated account for 99.5% of all new COVID deaths.
Even if they were otherwise qualified, Elder and Paffrath's "optional" COVID safety measures render them unfit to serve as the Governor of this nation's most populous State.
Why Green Party's Dan Kapelovitz is the Best Choice for Progressives
Last month, when interviewed on-air by Brad Friedman, I said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that I was inclined to vote for the Green Party candidate on the second question, in order to send the Republican sponsors of the Recall a message that their misuse of the Recall process could lead to a Governor who is to the Left of our current Governor. I shouldn't have said that. This is not a time to be cavalier.
The selection of a candidate on question (2) entails much more than sending a message. It entails a responsible decision as to who would be the best choice to serve as this State's chief executive in the event that Newsom is unjustly recalled --- a decision that this progressive arrived at only after examining the information available online regarding each of the 21 candidates who were not listed on the ballot as either a Republican or a Libertarian.
Oddly enough, as a result of that more exacting scrutiny, I've concluded that one of the two Green Party candidates, Dan Kapelovitz, represents the best progressive option.
Ideologically, the Green Party Platform is indistinguishable from the "Promise" offered by the U.S. House Progressive Caucus. The Green Party Platform calls for the development of a "socially and racially just, ecologically sustainable, democratic and peaceful society that exists in harmony with nature." It describes a need for "'EcoSocialism', founded on democracy, equity, and solidarity."
In essence, the Green Party calls for what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) describes as "democratic socialism".
The critical distinction between members of the Green Party and the FDR-like New Dealers, who make up the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is tactical. Sanders, for example, decided to run for President as a Democrat based upon the mathematical realities of the two-party system. But that math doesn't apply during a California Recall process that the Constitutional Scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of U.C. Berkley's Law School, argues is unconstitutional because it would allow someone to replace Newsom even though that individual received far fewer votes than the incumbent Governor.
The ideological gap between FDR-like progressives, irrespective of whether they are registered Democrats or Greens, and textbook socialists can be found on question (2) of the Recall ballot.
David Moore, a special education teacher for the Oakland Unified School District, is listed on the ballot as having no party preference. In fact, he's the Socialist Equity Party candidate. Moore advocates voting "NO" on the Recall for purely ideological reasons even as the Socialist Equality Party's candidate joins Republicans in criticizing Newsom's handling of the pandemic.
Where progressives, like Sanders and Warren, seek to tackle inequality via such measures as a wealth tax, Moore's militant textbook socialism breaks through with a call to "seize the wealth of the ruling elite" --- an action that would likely violate the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
In the event Newsom is recalled, a critical issue is whether a new Governor could work efficiently with the Democratic super-majority in the California State Legislature. That would likely be impossible for any of the Republicans on the second part of the ballot. But it would also be a tall order for a militant textbook socialist like Moore, who calls for an "independent political mobilization of the working class against both the Democrats and Republicans."
Dennis Richter, a "Retail Store Worker", who is listed as having no party preference on the ballot, is, in actual fact, the Socialist Workers Party candidate. He opposes what he describes as "the capitalist parties" and, as can be expected from a textbook socialist, laudably champions the working class. Unfortunately, there's no reason to believe this Walmart employee is remotely capable of assuming the awesome administrative responsibilities of the chief executive of a state so large that, if it was its own country, would represent the 5th largest economy in the world.
Disturbingly, Richter displays a profound ignorance of epidemiology. He joins with Republicans --- albeit, from a working class perspective --- claiming that Newsom's COVID shutdown rules were "arbitrary" and needlessly caused the "destruction of many small businesses".
There can be no doubt that pre-vaccine shutdowns all across the nation had an adverse economic impact. Newsom's shutdown orders, however, were driven by science. People like Richter might ask themselves how many more Californians would have died had Newsom not placed science before the economic impact of shutdowns? The socially irresponsible, who believe it somehow inconvenient to wear masks and socially distance, overlook last October's University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's estimate that implementation of those two, simple public safety measures would save 130,000 lives in the U.S.
Richter's background as a Walmart worker contrasts sharply with the Green Party's Kapelovitz, a criminal defense attorney who received a juris doctor from UCLA Law School in 2009. Where Richter and Moore joined Republicans in criticizing Newsom, at his website, Kapelovitz makes it clear that he is an ardent opponent of the Recall. His decision to run is based solely on the need to provide a progressive alternative if Newsom is unjustly recalled: "If we don't stop the Republican recall," Kapelovitz writes, "a Governor like Larry Elder will run us off a COVID cliff."
The Green Party candidate's integrity in championing "NO" on the Recall campaign, his progressive bona fides, and his educational and professional background reveal to this progressive Democrat that Kapelovitz is vastly superior to all of the other candidates on the second part of the ballot. By way of contrast, for example, Heather Collins, the other Green Party candidate, is a hairdresser.
...And the rest
Although Major Singh, who also offers no party preference, holds a Masters in Computer Science and Operations Research, his website is devoid of any useful information beyond a vague call for "respect, integrity, balance and sharing".
Business Standard reveals that Kevin K. Kaul, another no party preference candidate, could not remotely be considered progressive. He's the Founder and Chair of the U.S. Business Forum, a proponent of the international "free trade" agreements that have had a devastating impact upon the U.S. working class.
Democrat Patrick Kilpatrick, an actor/director/screenwriter, described Newsom as an "ineffective" and "disgraced" Governor. (Kilpatrick's reckless decision, in the midst of the Republican Recall, to bash Newsom should, in this progressive's view, serve to eliminate him from serious consideration.) Like his Republican counterparts, Kilpatrick calls for lower taxes while making no mention of the climate crisis.
Democrat Joel Ventresca, is a self-described progressive, who previously ran an unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of San Francisco. While a number of his policies, which include eliminating homelessness and mass incarceration, along with his desire to make California the first state to reach net-zero carbon emissions, are laudable, Ventresca's education (Masters in Public Administration), age and professional status --- retired airport analyst --- do not rise to the same level as Kapelovitz, who seems better positioned to vigorously assume the duties of a Governor.
In terms of education and profession, the credentials of Brandon Ross, a physician and attorney, are, at face value, seemingly adequate. Ross graduated Summa Cum Laude from UC Davis with a degree in Genetics. But Ross is not a progressive. To the contrary, he describes himself as a "moderate" and fails to offer any policy proposals beyond vague generalities.
Ross, a hair-transplant specialist, also has a troubling past. According to NBC San Diego, Ross "was stopped by police in October 2011 after his estranged wife reported he had threatened to kill himself." During the stop, officers "found a loaded gun and extra ammunition" along with "$25,000 in cash, four pills containing Hydrocodone...hypodermic needles...tubes and plungers." Ross, who now acknowledges past substance abuse that began in response to a back injury, admitted he'd ordered 7,000 doses of Hydrocodone for himself.
"In August, 2012," NBC San Diego added, "the Medical Board suspended Ross's license for four months and placed him on probation for 10 years."
Michael Loebs is listed without a party preference on the ballot. He holds a Masters Degree in and has taught Political Science at SFSU. Some of his policy proposals, Universal Basic Income, are not all that controversial among progressives. Others, such as a return of all of California's federally-owned land to Native Americans --- good luck getting that one approved by Congress --- and his call for California to "secede" from the United States, place Loebs on what might be regarded as the fringe Left.
Also listed without a party preference, with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing Finance, Denis Lucy appears to be a candidate who has given little thought to substantive policies. His meandering answer to California's homelessness crisis essentially proposed the availability of day labor.
No one should take serious the candidacy of candidate Jeremiah "Jeremy" Marciniak. Sporting an Associate Degree (Jr. College) in Business and no party preference, Marciniak produced an uninspiring YouTube video in which he informed us that now was the "time to take a stand".
In her LinkedIn Profile, Democrat Jacqueline McGowan describes herself as a self-employed "patient advocate" who also serves as a Cannabis lobbyist. She laudably calls for "environmentally sound infrastructure projects to address the impacts of climate change" and proposes to meet the homelessness crisis via public/private cooperation to build high-density housing on former industrial sites . (One shutters to think of the possible cleanup costs should there be toxic waste on those former industrial sites.)
The foregoing proposals, as revealed by our in-depth coverage of a recent federal court decision, reflect that McGowan suffers from a profound lack of appreciation for the extent to which homelessness is tied to a century of structural racism and systemic inequality. That court decision reveals that L.A.'s public/private partnership on such projects was rife with corruption and inefficiency, and, by comparison, Newsom's actions entailed vastly superior, cost effective and efficient methods for addressing what our besieged incumbent Governor described as "the wrenching reality of families, children and seniors living unfed on a concrete bed."
Neither Democrat Holly L. Bade, a Director of a Private Ministerial Association, no party preference candidate Adam Papagan, a tour guide who supports the Republican Recall, nor perennial "celebrity" candidate, Angelyne aka the "billboard queen" belong on the ballot. The same may be said of Democrat John R. Drake, a 22-year old, well-meaning progressive college student who only holds an AA (Jr. College) degree in Political and Social Science.
Aside from his support for ensuring a living wage for all full-time work, there is nothing to indicate that no party preference candidate James Hanink, a former LMU Professor, is remotely progressive. To the contrary, his "pro-life" policies put him in line with Republicans who seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Democrat Daniel Watts is a self-described "free speech lawyer", who, when asked to address how to deal with the crisis of the unhoused, illogically responded: "Free college."
Make no mistake. This Recall election is a dangerous, naked, attempted power grab by a Republican Party which knows no other way to try and win a statewide election in California. All residents should take the time to vote via a hand-marked paper ballot, as soon as possible, with a solid "NO" on the first question, in opposition of removal of Gov. Gavin Newsom. All Democrats and progressives would do well to help the state avert a very worst-case scenario by voting on the second question for the Green Party's Dan Kapelovitz.
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CORRECTION: We originally characterized Paffrath's position on the homeless as wanting to round them up and "then transport and deposit these impoverished human beings --- men, women and children --- in open fields." In fact, while Paffrath "proposes ordering the National Guard to clear them from the streets within 60 days of his taking office," according to Los Angeles Magazine, depositing them into an open field was, in fact, GOP candidate Caitlyn Jenner's stated position on CA's homelessness crisis, not Paffrath's. We regret the error.