SJ Mercury News: Governor Camejo?

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Wed Jul 30 08:59:28 MDT 2003

(The most likely reason that a paper
like the Knight-Ridder San Jose
Mercury-News, owner of the Miami
Herald and Phildelphia Inquirer and
News would publish an article with
this political line is to put pressure
on the "responsible" [that is, the
mainstream and establishment
conservative] leaders of the
Democratic Party to put one of
their own on the ballot, just in case.

(US politics is in a state of extreme
decay. Its apparatuses are in great
distress. No one expected Ventura
to win. He was, after all, just a TV
character out of the world of the
professional wrestler. His views on
many topics were and are quite
conservative. But he also went to
Cuba and called for an end to the
"embargo" [his term]. This caused
so much fright among the Bush

(Peter was a key speaker at the
very first political demonstration
I ever attended, in April 1961, in
Union Square in New York City,
protesting the US-sponsored and
orchestrated invasion of Cuba at
the Bay of Pigs. Sixteen months
later, while on a national speaking
tour in defense of Cuba, Camejo
recruited me to the Young Socialist
Alliance. The YSA was very active
in support of Cuba at that time.)

Posted on Tue, Jul. 29, 2003

Gov. Camejo?
By Larry N. Gerston

It's Oct. 8, the day after California's historic election in
which the voters have recalled Gov. Gray Davis and replaced
him with . . . Peter Camejo? Don't rule it out.

This election will be organized differently from all others.
On Oct. 7, the candidate who gets the most votes will win
the highest office in a state with an economy (admittedly
battered) equivalent to the fifth-largest nation in the
world. There will be no party primaries to select nominees,
which would leave a tidy general election ballot of six or
seven names before the voters. Rather, dozens of
candidates -- perhaps as many as 100 or more -- will file
for an opportunity to become captain of the California
Titanic. With so many candidates, someone could win with as
little as 10 or 12 percent of the vote.

So how does that turn Green Party candidate Peter Camejo
into Governor Camejo?

The recall ballot will have two parts. The first question
will be whether the voters want to recall Davis. The second
question on the same ballot will ask voters to choose from a
long list of replacement candidates in the event that Davis
is recalled.

Imagine that the Democrats actually stick to their game plan
and refuse to field any candidate of note. At the same time,
a dozen or so well-known Republicans and lots of others
place their names on the ballot along with Camejo. Now the
plot thickens.

Imagine that Davis loses his recall fight and that sizable
numbers of Democrats who voted to retain the governor cast
their votes for Camejo. For some, it will be because Camejo
is the choice closest to moderate-to-liberal Davis.
For others, it will be a way to stick it to the Republican
conservatives who created this mess in the first place. Add
the Democratic vote to the 5 percent that Camejo received
when he ran for governor in 2002, and it could be a runaway
for the most liberal candidate in the bunch.

How liberal? Camejo favors a statewide ``living wage,''
rejects Ward Connerly's racial privacy initiative, supports
the legalization of marijuana, opposes capital punishment
and was an early, vocal critic of the invasion of Iraq.
Result: While conservative Republicans may succeed in
tossing out their nemesis, they may pave the way for
election of the most liberal governor in the state's

Think it's out of the question? That's what they said in
Minnesota in 1998, when the voters chose former Navy Seal
and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura over mainstream
candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties.
That's what they said in 1998 when Green Party Candidate
Audie Bock -- who may be on the Oct. 7 recall ballot as a
Democrat -- sneaked by former Oakland Mayor and Assembly
member Elihu Harris to capture an Assembly seat. In
politics, no matter how people may wish to choreograph
outcomes, sometimes the unpredictable happens.

On Oct. 7, under not such outrageous conditions,
conservatives could oust Democrat Davis only to be stuck
with someone who makes Davis look like a (gulp)

Moral to the story? Conservatives had better be careful what
they wish for -- they might get a lot more.

Larry N. Gerston is a professor of political science at San
Jose State University and a political analyst at NBC11. He
wrote this column for the Mercury News.

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