GOP Mounts Lawmaker Recalls over Gun Control, Targets Those with Latino Surnames

Monday, October 28, 2013

On the 10-year anniversary of the recall that ushered in Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the staggering California GOP is being beckoned by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, Tea Party favorite and gubernatorial candidate, to join him in targeting gun-control supporters for similar treatment.

Democrats, who overwhelmingly control both houses of the state Legislature, sent 18 gun-control measures to Governor Jerry Brown in the last session, mostly over the strident objections of Republicans. Brown signed 11 of them.

Last week, Jennifer Kerns, the spokesperson for groups that successfully recalled two Colorado Democrats in the state Senate in September over their support of gun legislation announced her participation in a similar California campaign.

Kerns, who has been active in California politics for years and is Donnelly’s press spokesperson, said her coalition will likely go after five politicians, including Assembly Speaker John Pérez, for starters. The other four lawmakers named are: Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and Sharon Quirk-Silva, and state Senators Ben Hueso and Norma Torres.

All five have Latino-sounding surnames and Pérez, who has announced he wants to be State Controller, is being termed out next year.

Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, speaking for the California Latino Legislative Caucus, was not amused. “Californians will not stand for any campaign that is clearly racist and devoid of any political or legal legitimacy,” he said.

The number of signatures needed to force a recall election varies from district to district, depending on how many votes were cast in the last election. But even if they get the signatures, Republicans could be facing an uphill battle. Four of the five lawmakers won their last race with at least 64% of the vote. And a Field Poll (pdf) in February found that Californians think it is “more important to impose greater controls on gun ownership than protecting the rights of Americans to own guns” by a margin of 61% to 34%.

At a press conference last week, Donnelly referred to the targeted lawmakers as “threats” who need to be “removed.” California is one of 19 states that lets voters remove such threats without any evidence of fraud or official misconduct.   

It was rare 10 years ago when Democratic Governor Gray Davis was the fall guy for a bad national economy and pillaging by rogue energy traders. But it’s gaining in popularity. According to Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, 20 of the 38 state legislative recall elections in U.S. history have been in the last decade.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have perfected the art of the political do-over, voting to repeal Obamacare 46 times without ever getting a vote in the Senate. President Barack Obama has said on more than one occasion—with a tone of incredulity and usually while defending the Affordable Care Act—that “elections do matter.” They settle certain things. He sounds certain of that, as if it’s kind of obvious.

But, in what Cillizza calls the "Age of Recall," not everyone agrees.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:  

Gun-Rights Groups Will Try to Recall California Lawmakers (by Reid Wilson, Washington Post)

California Gun-Control Votes Trigger Recall Attempts (by Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News)

Gun Groups Target California Lawmakers for Recall (by Melody Gutierrez, San Francisco Chronicle)

Colorado Lawmakers Ousted in Recall Vote over Gun Law (by Jack Healy, New York Times)

Welcome to the Age of the Recall Election (by Chris Cillizza, Washington Post)

Governor Vetoes a Bunch of Gun Control Bills, but Right-Wing Still Calls it the “Great Gun Grab” (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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