Oh my! Jane Fonda explored a run for governor as Newsom's recall got underway

AP Photo

That photo of Jane Fonda used above is from her infamous trip to North Vietnam in 1972. She gave aid and comfort to our enemy during the Vietnam war yet she has never been brought to justice for that. Instead, she’s gone about her life as though it never happened. Occasionally she issues an apology or says she now regrets her betrayal of American soldiers fighting and dying in that godforsaken war but only when she stands to benefit from it.

She’s continued to work in Hollywood. She’s a hero to her colleagues. Her political activism has continued through the years and most recently she has led Fire Drill Friday protests in Washington, D.C. Fonda endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2020. The environment is her big issue in her old age. The 83-year-old radical leftist wants to ban fossil fuels and halt the construction of pipelines. You get the picture. Jane Fonda will always be Hanoi Jane to me.

It is being reported in the San Francisco Chronicle that Fonda considered a run for governor in California when the recall effort began against the current governor, Gavin Newsom. I know. Her ego is large and she sees herself as an agent for change so I suppose this story shouldn’t surprise us. People close to Fonda say that she entertained the idea and a secret poll was taken that shows Newsom is vulnerable in the recall effort. In other words, when the poll was taken, Newsom’s victory was not a sure thing. Fonda thought she would offer herself as a candidate so that California voters would have an alternate progressive to support. She saw it as a way to stop a Republican candidate from winning.

But the previously unreported episode and poll demonstrate the extent to which progressives worried that not running a Democrat as a replacement for Newsom could risk handing the state over to a Republican candidate. And it is further evidence the governor could be more vulnerable than the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic leanings might otherwise suggest.

According to Democratic and environmental sources, all of whom requested anonymity not to betray Fonda’s or others’ confidence, there were discussions earlier this summer about seeking a progressive candidate to run as a Newsom replacement, or at least as a non-Republican alternative were the recall to win. One source familiar with Fonda’s thinking said the idea also came out of concern about apathy among progressives toward Newsom.

Fonda never filed paperwork to run and the idea “fizzled” but just the fact that Democrats are so concerned that Newsom may lose the recall in solidly blue California is interesting. A backup candidate would provide more assurance that the state remains under Democrat control yet no one was stepping forward. A private poll was taken and Fonda came out ahead of other names mentioned. 21% of those responding to the poll said they would definitely or probably vote for her. Her background and past actions didn’t bother those responding to the poll. The poll was taken before conservative radio show host Larry Elder entered the race.

Democrats are really not so gung-ho on Newsom. The far left, like Fonda, don’t think he is progressive enough. When the biographies of other candidates were made available to voters, the race began to tighten and remains tight now, if we are to believe polls. There are only two questions on the ballot – should Newsom be recalled and, if so, who should replace him? The top vote-getter wins the election as a replacement even if a true majority of votes is not won.

The fact that Newsom isn’t so popular with Democrats played into their strategy for the recall. Advisers thought that if another Democrat entered the race, votes would be taken from Newsom. That is what happened in 2003 when then-Governor Gray Davis was recalled. Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante ran and took enough votes from Davis that he lost the recall. That race is California’s only other gubernatorial recall.

Fonda supports Newsom and has endorsed him. She was never anti-Newsom, she just thought about running to make sure there was a Democrat on the ballot who could win. She calls the recall an attack on democracy. It’s the exact opposite, though, because 39 states allow political recalls and California is one of those states.

The same pollster who worked for Bernie’s campaign conducted this secret poll. Only 1,000 people were polled and it showed Fonda with a good shot at winning. This result could be used as leverage by Fonda and her supporters to move Newsom farther left. He must have gotten the news because, in recent weeks, Newsom has taken action to kowtow to progressives.

Around the same time a potential Fonda candidacy swirled, Newsom took a string of unexpected actions to bolster California’s climate response. The governor has long had a lukewarm relationship with environmentalists. Though he has adopted policies to reduce heat-trapping emissions, activists have criticized him for having too slow a timeline to phase out oil drilling and for not acting to create buffer zones between oil wells and homes and schools.

On July 8, his administration denied 21 applications to drill for oil using the controversial practice known as fracking. The process, in which high-pressure liquids and often chemicals are injected into the earth to release fossil fuel deposits, can contaminate groundwater and disrupt the natural geology of an area.

A day later, and with little fanfare, Newsom directed state regulators to examine what it would take for California to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, a decade ahead of its current 2045 target, citing faster-than-expected climate change effects.

He also urged the California Public Utilities Commission, the state’s utility regulators, to ramp up its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electrical grid by 2030.

Fonda toured oil drilling and refinery sites with Newsom’s wife last week. She wants Democrats to know she’s on board with Newsom. Meanwhile, she’s back to work on her Netflix series.

We cringe at the thought of a commie like Fonda entering elected office, especially a governorship, but stranger things have happened in California. On the Republican side, both Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger ran and were elected as Republicans. Sonny Bono and Clint Eastwood were mayors of California cities. Entertainers have name recognition and Fonda was playing to that in her concern that Newsom may not win. It’s a legit concern as California has some very real problems and residents are moving away in large numbers.

The recall election is on September 14. Californians dodged a bullet with Fonda’s decision to take a pass.