Monday, October 03, 2005

Recalling Schwarzenegger?

[[P O L I T I C S]] * Just over two weeks after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he would run for re-election in 2006, despite a job approval rating in the low 30s, Berkeley physician Kenneth Matsumura declares that he’s launching a recall petition drive against the action-star turned Republican politician. This comes only two years following Schwarzenegger’s own successful campaign to replace Democrat Gray Davis by means of their state’s first-ever gubernatorial recall election.

“California is not a movie set--we don’t want to have an insensitive, reckless character like he portrays in the movies gallivanting and frolicking in our state,” the 60-year-old Matsumura told The Daily Review, a Bay Area newspaper. “Governing California is not about fun. Poor people are not having any fun. We hope we can have a different kind of leader by June of next year.” Matsumura, who directs the Alin Foundation and the Berkeley Institute for Advanced Medical Research, tells the Review he expects to deliver a proposed recall petition to the secretary of state’s office in Sacramento next week. He’ll have 160 days beyond that to collect the minimum 1.04 million valid registered-voter signatures necessary to add this recall option to the Golden State’s June 2006 primary ballot. Already, Matsumura has set up a Web site to take in donations and sign up people willing to volunteer for this cause.

Matsumura seems undeterred by the fact that June 2006 is only five months before Schwarzenegger’s abbreviated first term will end. He tells the Review that “booting [the governor] from office early would let lawmakers take another stab in 2006 at some of the legislation Schwarzenegger vetoed this year.” The Recall Schwarzenegger Web site chides the guv for, among other things, “[robbing] our public schools of critically needed funds”; “destroying the quality of healthcare for Californians”; “weakening our disaster readiness”; and being “intent on protecting his special interest group of wealthy taxpayers.” Few state executives, it continues, “have alienated so many people as Governor Schwarzenegger. Despite his lack of experience in government, he has taken a ‘know it all’ attitude and have bullheadedly plotted a course for California that has only multiplied the problems California already faced when he was elected.”

The future of this recall drive will depend both on Matsumura’s ability to raise money and on Schwarzenegger’s success or failure to win support for four initiatives he’s promoting on November’s costly special-election ballot. The most popular of those (and that’s not saying much at this point) is corporation-friendly Proposition 75, which would require that public employee unions procure written permission before using member dues money for political purposes.
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Speaking of U.S. governors in trouble ... Ohio Republican Bob Taft, who in mid-August pleaded “no contest” to four indictments on criminal misdemeanor charges for having failed to report a succession of golf outings, meals, and other gifts in violation of state law, has since seen his job approval rating plunge to an embarrassing 15 percent, “making him one of the most unpopular politicians in the history of political polls,” according to the Associated Press. A survey conducted by The Columbus Dispatch found that Taft, a second-term governor and the great-grandson of President William Howard Taft, is even more unpopular than Richard Nixon was at the height of the Watergate scandal, and may be the least popular Ohio governor since such polling began in the mid-1900s. “Almost any figure who’s elected in a partisan election usually has at least some support from his party,” Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, tells the AP. “Usually there’s a party base. It’s hard mathematically to get that low.” So far, Taft refuses to resign, and Democrats seem to be willing to leave him in office, powerless and another symbol of GOP corruption.
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Finally, it seems that controversial former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has decided to run for the Camellia State governor’s job next year. You remember Moore, the Christian conservative Republican who was removed from office in 2003 by his state’s judicial ethics panel, after refusing to obey a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from in front of the state Supreme Court building. He was later courted by the United States Constitution Party, which wanted him to make a run for the White House in 2004, but Moore declined. Now, however, he says he’s ready to challenge fellow GOPer Bob Riley, Alabama’s first-term incumbent governor, in a campaign that could well turn on the Ten Commandments dispute. That might spell good news for the two Democrats running for the seat, Lieutenant Governor Lucy Baxley and former Governor Don Siegelman.
READ MORE:Has the Terminator Lost Touch?,” by David S. Broder (The Washington Post); “Roy and His Rock,” by Joshua Green (The Atlantic Monthly); “Arnold Schwarzenegger Doesn’t Care About Good Government” (

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