Senator helping fund ‘Vote No’ mailersBy Richard Freedman, Vallejo Times-Herald, August 18, 2021
State Sen. Bill Dodd’s recent bout with vertigo has nothing to do with the dizzying feeling he gets seeing the number of names — 46 — on the California Gubernatorial Recall Election ballot hitting mailboxes this week.
Not that Dodd, a former Republican, is concerned about potential replacements for Gavin Newsom. It’s the two boxes — “Yes” and “No” — he’s focusing on, backing up his support of the Democrat governor with a $75,000 mailer campaign.
The state’s Department of Finance says the recall election is costing taxpayers roughly $215.2 million — money Dodd believes “would go a long way of funding so many projects like improving Highway 37. There are so many needs. The idea we’re going to spend it on a sham recall effort doesn’t rise to the level of what I call good government.”
Just short of 1.5 million verified signatures were needed to trigger a statewide ballot. The state verified roughly 1.6 million signatures.
Recall organizers claim government overreach has led to dissatisfaction with Newsom’s leadership. They cite his executive order to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and rolling power outages to prevent wildfires, among other issues. They also cite a number of issues surrounding his handling of the coronavirus.
“There are a lot of people out there for some reason or other want to support this recall,” Dodd said by phone. “It’s my firm belief that a lot of things that have gone on — COVID-19, wildfires, utility shut-offs — since he became the chief executive officer of this state would happen no matter who is the governor of the state. He had little or no control over those things happening.”
Of the 22 million registered voters in California about 10 million (or 46%) are Democrat and 5 million (24%) are Republicans. The remaining 6.5 million (30%) are independents or registered to other parties, according to the most recent Report of Registration from the California Secretary of State released in February.
Newsom was elected in 2018, beating Republican challenger John Cox 61.9 % to 38.1%.
The thought of a sitting governor with that overwhelming a victory losing his job to someone with a comparatively minuscule portion of the vote on a crowded ballot doesn’t sit right with Dodd.
“They (recall supporters) are counting on this as their ‘January 6 opportunity’ to overturn the government, but doing it through a recall,” Dodd said, alluding to the failed takeover of the U.S. Capitol.
“This is what happens when either party can go too far,” said Dodd. “These are reactionary times.”
A main figure of that Capitol insurrection, an Arizona man wearing U.S. flag colors face paint, a furry hat and horns, is featured prominently on Dodd’s “Vote No” mailer. Another version of the mailer includes a photograph of the U.S. Capitol building from Jan. 6.
“His point is that the same people who stormed the Capitol are the same people who want to recall Newsom,” said Dodd spokesman Paul Payne.
Dodd is banking on the registered voter party difference to secure Newsom’s remaining term, set to end in January of 2023. Endorsed by Newsom in the 2016 state senate election, Dodd funded the mailout — “Are You Going to Let Them Win?” — as a reminder to vote and vote “No.”
“I think if the people of the state of California turn out and vote on this, I don’t think the chances are very good he will get recalled,” Dodd said. “I think we need to peel back the onion a little bit and stop and think what has been accomplished in terms of policies on climate change, trying to get a handle on the homeless, our budgets and what we’re investing in.”
“I ask that people just vote and let their voices be heard,” Dodd said, believing that “organizers of this recall see this as an opportunity to use COVID-19 and some of these other issues to try and move him out. They have a much better chance of getting someone elected through a recall than with a traditional election.”
Dodd believes recall supporters are counting on the heavy Democratic advantage to be distracted by the pandemic and forgo voting.
“If we don’t vote, we let them potentially win,” he said. “We know that if Democrats and independents vote in large numbers, this recall will fail.”
Dodd declined to speculate how a failed recall could backfire on Republicans.
“I’m not looking for a pound of flesh after this. For me, it’s about having them fail on this issue,” he said. “I’m happy to debate them or work with them on other issues that make sense for everyone who lives in the state or certainly in my district.”
Dodd believes there needs to be “some narrow criteria, whether a governor, legislator or local elected official” can be recalled. He cited Placerville, which is trying to recall four of its five council members because they want to “change the look of Main Street,” according to a recall organizer.
“That’s what elections are for,” Dodd said. “That’s direct democracy put in for a reason.”
Dodd, D-Napa, represents District 3, including all of Napa and Solano counties and parts of Contra Costa, Yolo and Sonoma counties.