California Democrats changing the rules to protect one of their own

You may recall a news item out of California last month which seemed out of step with usual Golden State politics. Voters there had been saddled with yet another massive tax hike, this one primarily centered around the gas tax, which had been rammed through the legislature with only Democratic votes. People had finally, it seemed, had enough. Activists put forward two new measures for a referendum vote, one to repeal the tax increase and the other to recall Josh Newman, one of the Democratic state senators who pushed the measure through. Newman barely held onto his seat in the last election, so he was widely viewed as potentially being in trouble.

Faced with the prospect of losing that seat in the senate, Democrats quickly mobilized to put out a positive campaign message and win people over to their way of thinking on this complex funding issue. Naw… I’m just kidding. They’ve moved to change the rules so it will be harder for the voters to recall anyone. (LA Times)

State Senate Democrats introduced legislation Monday to change the rules governing recall elections to remove a lawmaker from office, potentially helping one of their own survive an effort now underway in Southern California.

The proposal, contained in one of the bills enacting a new state budget, comes after backers of an effort to remove state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) from office have submitted more than 31,000 voter signatures to trigger a special election.

“Recalls are designed to be extraordinary events in response to extraordinary circumstances – and it’s in the public’s overwhelming interest to ensure the security, integrity and legitimacy of the qualification process,” said Jonathan Underland, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

So they’re pitching this as an effort to ensure the security, integrity and legitimacy of the process, eh? And how do they propose to do that? They’ll be giving anyone who signed the petitions a chance to ask to have their names pulled. The petitioners would then have to remove the names, redo the tallies, and manually verify every signature. And they’ve got to get all of that done in 30 days or the petition is tossed. We’re talking about tens of thousands of signatures here. Are you kidding me?

All the party will need to do is send out volunteers to find a couple of people who signed the petitions without thinking very much about it and convince them to demand the change. At that point, the resources required to pull off the adjustments will be demanding to say the least. And the crazy part is that they’re obviously doing this specifically to protect Josh Newman. They apparently have zero shame whatsoever.

But on the bright side, at least they didn’t change the numbers of signatures required to some number greater than the population of the senate district. Now that I think about it I probably shouldn’t be giving them any ideas. That will probably be the next rules change if this one doesn’t work.