Hi Ted . . the scoop on this is as follows, from the Wall Street Journal. Also, just type in "Gray Davis Recall" and you'll get lots more info. Sorry for posting an article, by the way
Story originally in the Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2003:
California is still one of the best places in America to build a successful small business. All you have to do is start with a successful large one.
That's the joke making the rounds these days on the left coast, where a $38 billion budget gap and other evidence of awful governance is fueling a populist revolt to toss Governor Gray Davis out of office.
A state-wide poll released last week found that, given the opportunity, more than half of California voters would oust Mr. Davis, whom they only re-elected last year. If organizers of a recall effort obtain the 900,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, a special election could be held as early as this fall.
Many Californians are clearly fed up, and who can blame them? Mr. Davis, whose approval rating is only 38% among fellow Democrats, has been running his state's government into the ground. Not long ago state residents had to suffer through an entirely avoidable energy crisis that resulted in actual brown-outs, a la the Third World. Now they're facing a budget deficit that exceeds the gross domestic product of most countries.
When Governor Davis was first elected in 1998, he inherited a budget surplus of $12 billion. Tax revenues grew 28% during Governor Davis's first term, well above inflation. But over the same period Sacramento's spending went up 36%, setting the stage for the state's current fiscal crisis once the economy slowed. Rather than cutting back on spending, or reforming the government, Mr. Davis is again protecting the political class by proposing higher taxes in a state that is already one of the most tax-crazy in the nation.
The governor wants to raise the sales tax by a penny, which will cost the typical family an extra $250 a year. The top 10% of earners in the state already pay 80% of all income taxes, but this isn't progressive enough for Mr. Davis, who's looking to increase the marginal income tax rate on the state's highest earners to 11% from 9.3%.
Mr. Davis never got around to mentioning any of these plans during his re-election bid last year. He deceived voters about both the size of the problem and how he planned to fix it. If his duplicity is now angering voters, and they want to hold him accountable, that's a lesson more politicians could stand to learn.
California's recall measure was added to its constitution in 1911. It's purpose is to give voters a way to remove a "dishonest, incapable or unsatisfactory" public servant. Opponents complain that a recall would undo an election, which Mr. Davis won in 2002 with 47% of the vote. But the process is entirely constitutional and was put in place for exactly this purpose. The threshold for signatures is set deliberately high, to prevent frivolous recall attempts - which is why no state official has ever been recalled.
Far from being an organized GOP effort, this populist revolt is shaking up elites in both parties. Democrats obviously don't want voters to intrude on their dominance of state government. And the White House would prefer that Mr. Davis remain as a unpopular leader to enhance President Bush's chances of carrying California in 2004.
But the political establishment has let down the voters too many times in the recent past. The Democrats have gerrymandered themselves into a legislative majority that answers less to the voters than to powerful interest groups - trial lawyers, greens and especially public employee unions. The GOP is also at fault for being too divided to mount any serious opposition.
The echoes of Proposition 13 are deafening here, and instructive. Passed overwhelmingly by Californians almost precisely 25 years ago, that taxpayer revolt was also a response to entrenched and unaccountable government. The spending-limit requirements that followed put the state in good stead for most of the 1980s. But in 1990 the state's political class finally got the voters to pass Proposition 111, which effectively removed all spending restraints and made possible Republican Governor Pete Wilson's massive tax increase in 1991. The inmates have been running the asylum ever since.
It's true that if the recall makes it to the ballot, the election transition could be messy. California's next governor could win with a small plurality, or voters could replace Mr. Davis with another tax-and-spend liberal who's unwilling to restore fiscal discipline. But the consequences could hardly be worse than the incompetent status quo.
It was Thomas Jefferson who said that a revolution every generation or so has its uses. Democracy by initiative and recall isn't pretty, and it sometimes makes mistakes, but it is a useful balance to the tendency of modern government to become controlled by unaccountable political elites. A little revolution is just what California needs.