Tuesday’s California recall is American politics in a nutshell.
“Recalls are weird,” Ari Melber said on MSNBC Monday night. This recall is definitely weird. This moment in politics is weird and tumultuous and poisonous. It’s hard for anyone but news junkies to make sense of the nonsense.
This recall is specifically about California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and the Republicans who are trying to unseat him, but it’s also about Covid-19. It’s also about Donald Trump and his takeover of the Republican party. It’s also about the GOP’s adherence to voter fraud fabrications that deny the Democratic party’s legitimacy and undercut democracy. It’s “a preview of coming attractions,” Newsom’s top strategist Sean Clegg told reporters in Long Beach on Monday.
“Battery acid on our Constitution”
So let’s address what Clegg meant by “coming attractions.” Regarding Tuesday’s election result, he expressed supreme confidence, according to CNN’s Dan Merica: Clegg said “there’s no scenario where we lose tomorrow.”
But with Elder’s campaign already alleging election impropriety, Clegg said, “We saw it in the November election. We saw it in the January 6th insurrection. We do not have a Democratic and Republican party in this country. We have a democratic party and an anti-democratic party. They’re trying to throw battery acid on our Constitution, on our electoral norms. And it’s a preview of coming attractions. We’re going to see the same thing in 2022 and the same thing in 2024. And unfortunately, it’s become the Trump playbook and they’re going to it. And they’re going back to it.”
The only problem, as Seitz-Wald wrote, is that “the election hasn’t happened yet.”
But this website, StopCAFraud.com, was apparently published with the expectation that Elder will lose and will want to challenge the results. The site, bankrolled in part by Elder’s campaign, also alludes to violence. “We MUST protect election integrity,” the homepage says. “They say that in America, there are four boxes of liberty. The soapbox, the ballot box, the jury box, and the ammo box.” The implication is that election challenges will happen at the “jury box” with the “hope” that the “ammo box” — this is a quote from the website — “remains closed.”
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On the flip side, the Los Angeles Times recently quoted a GOP activist, Matt Francis, who expressed confidence that Newsom will indeed be recalled. “He’s worked to make it happen for months, and from online commentary he’s seen in recent weeks, he senses that Californians want a new leader,” The Times wrote. “But if the recall fails?” Francis said, “There is no way I am going to believe it.”
“Focus on the hard right and ignore the middle”
CNN correspondent Kyung Lah writes from Long Beach: “Larry Elder didn’t do any public rallies over the weekend. What did he do? He focused his efforts on right-wing media, talking up baseless election fraud claims. It’s all ridiculous given the two to one registration advantage Democrats have over Republicans. With Trump chiming in today, it’s similar to the behavior I’m seeing when I cover Arizona’s sham ‘audit’ — focus on the hard right and ignore the middle. It just struck me as illogical since Elder needs a bigger, not smaller audience.”
For the record
— Cable news networks are adding hours of live coverage late Tuesday and into Wednesday for the vote count.