OAKLAND – Running in California’s Recall is possibly the best bargain on the planet for those seeking fame and fortune.
For just $ 4,000, any registered voter can secure an instant platform for what is sure to be the most watched elections in the country this year – and take advantage of that position on social media and on the radio with some of the most eye-catching stunts possible.
State officials announced Monday that the recall has enough signatures to qualify for the vote, three days after reality TV star and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner launched her campaign to challenge Governor Gavin Newsom. California is already preparing for the media hype 18 years ago when B-list actors and ax-to-grind residents jumped into the state’s only other recall.
“If you want to be famous for being famous, there is no better way than to run for California governor – even if you have no chance of winning,” said Larry Kamer, a veteran public relations guru from California. “It’s kind of the political equivalent of running down the street naked.”
On Tuesday, “National Lampoon” actor Randy Quaid said He “is seriously considering running for governor.” He named among other things “corruption in the prosecution” in Santa Barbara – where he and his wife twice exposed to criminal charges in connection with an unpaid hotel bill in 2009 and a stay in the guest house in 2010. Quaid drew attention to the then President Donald Trump in November retweeted the actor’s supporting posts when Trump questioned the election results.
The final field of candidates could look like a “clown car” of wannabe and political thrill seekers, Kamer suggested, and many believe the field will easily surpass the 135 participants in the 2003 race. Current social media culture offers enterprising Californians an easy way to amplify their voices and build a following should they join the fight.
The 2003 competition included Hustler magazine editor Larry Flynt, actor Gary Coleman and former Major League baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth. Arianna Huffington joined the fight before starting The Huffington Post. None of them came to the top of A-list movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who established himself as a front runner early on – but all gained coverage and notoriety as they competed for California’s top job.
Few know this better than former pornstar Mary Carey, who took tenth place and built a brand that lasted beyond the recall. She returns this year and is already winking clearly at California voters with her messages. “The last time I ran, I was young, stupid and full of fun,” said Carey when she announced her candidacy. “This time I have more experience and will not take this position. I am ready to be at the top! “
Carey said in an interview Tuesday that she doesn’t really support Newsom’s recall and believes the process is disruptive and expensive for voters. But as it happens, she wants to take the opportunity to “hear from the people” and use the platform to talk about real issues “like homelessness”, women’s health and small business. She said she had an unnamed political advisor in Sacramento this time around whom she called “Deep Throat”.
Angelyne, the Los Angeles poster star, is not outdone. The 29th place in 2003 has started her comeback campaign and repeats her slogan: “We had gray, we had brown, now it’s time for blonde and pink”, a reference to her branded hair and accessory colors.
Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who has been a fixture in six decades of state politics, said California’s current recall system leaves the door open to a circus. He even joked that he could run for governor if he could sell some expensive “Willie Brown for Governor” hats and ties – “made by Brioni,” as he boasts – to the hungry masses.
“It’s absolutely the cheapest way to apply nationwide,” said Brown.
Ahead of Monday’s announcement that the governor’s recall had enough valid signatures, more than 40 Californians announced their intention to run in the state of nearly 40 million people, home to some of the country’s largest media markets.
The 2003 recall included “a real who’s who of has-beens,” said David McCuan, professor of politics at Sonoma State University. But that parade will be far surpassed by the 2021 version, he predicted.
“Because of social media, Trump’s politics, and the kind of anti-establishment, anti-everything moment we’re in,” he said, “the potential to have five or six times that number right is huge.”
If there’s hope for more experienced candidates, the three who finished right behind Schwarzenegger are established political actors. They were in order of Democratic Governor Cruz Bustamante, then Senator and now Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) And Greens regular gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo.
Declared candidates this year include a growing number of Republicans, some of whom have serious qualifications and political experience, such as former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. He insisted that voters back the recall because of “real frustration” with state management under Newsom and Legislative Democrats – arguing that his experience as mayor provides a distinguishing message and platform in a potentially otherwise chaotic race.
“I’ve actually got results in the only big city in California where we’ve reduced homelessness by double digits,” Faulconer said, referring to it a point in time count before the pandemic hit. “I did not let the police down. I increased the budget because public safety and safe neighborhoods are incredibly important. I am someone who has done housing reforms to make San Diego more affordable. “
He will be vying for voter attention with businessman John Cox, who was crushed by Newsom in the 2018 general election and who has already attempted to attack Faulconer in mailers as RINO (“Republicans on behalf only”).
Former GOP MP Doug Ose, a multimillionaire from Sacramento who made a fortune in real estate, has also said he’s in. Republican Sam Gallucci, currently Senior Pastor at Embrace! Church in Oxnard, but formerly a top executive at PeopleSoft before the tech company was sold to Oracle for more than $ 10 billion.
And at least one other great Republican – Ric Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence in the Trump administration – has suggested that he consider the idea heavily.
There will likely also be a dizzying variety of topics among other contestants who will use the race as a megaphone to get their messages across on individual topics. In 2021, this could span the political spectrum of anti-Vaxxers and QAnon supporters, from religious zealots to Communist Party activists.
The declared candidates already include political newcomers such as Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato, the owner of a Fullerton-based sporting goods company. He supports ending all state Covid-19 restrictions and exporting mental health, drug, and homeless services and state prisons “to Central America”.
Tech professional and pastor Tim Herod says that if he were elected, he would no longer accept excuses such as climate change for the rampant California wildfire season. “If so, why isn’t the desert sand catching fire?” He argues on his campaign website.
And small business owners Dakota K. Vaughn Vows to discard “useless and unnecessary” laws that state that “neutering and registering dogs will no longer be a requirement when he is governor”.
Despite the entertainment value a free campaign can bring, critics say there are serious concerns about an election that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to make – a price that has not yet been appreciated by the California Department of Finance.
And Kamer warns that while the recall could create a flurry of such political newbies hoping to grab the brass ring, the vast majority will find the way intensely – and the fame fleeting.
“People may know your name,” he predicts, “but they won’t know you for anything except a stunt.”