The recent recall on governor Gray Davis is exactly what the progressive reformers had planned when they added direct democracy, including recall, to our state constitution ninety years ago. Nothing like this has happened before but the current governor of California seems destined to face a recall election that could end his governorship as early as this fall or no later than next spring. The California Constitution provides two ways to remove a governor during his term. The first of which is impeachment by the legislature for "misconduct in office". The second is recall for which there is no constitutional standard. However a recall requires a higher number of signatures to qualify than an initiative or referendum, two other aspects of direct democracy that were implemented by the progressives. The reformers designated three criteria to launch a recall effort: unpopularity, incompetence and corruption. Unfortunately for Davis he scores high on all three of these criteria. .
In a matter of weeks the recall on governor Davis has gone from a troublesome political problem to a real threat to his survival. Organizers of the recall claim to have more than 500,000 of the 900,000 necessary signatures to qualify a recall election. Davis" unpopularity is present in most voter groups. As many as one third of both democratic and Latino voters have proclaimed their disapproval with our governor. Davis" popularity first dropped three years ago when the warning signs of a possible energy crisis loomed in Sacramento. Davis" tried to shift the blame of the crisis to greedy energy traders but his efforts were unsuccessful. The responsibility for the lack of action is ultimately his.
When Governor Davis was first elected in 1998, he was blessed with a budget surplus of $12 billion. During his first term tax revenues grew over twelve percent. However, at the same time Sacramento's spending went up 36%, setting the stage for our state's current fiscal crisis.