During the 2003 Recall Election, 135 candidates entered the field. While this included serious candidates such as actor and eventual winner Arnold Schwarzenegger, then-Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, and then State Senator Tom McClintock, many others joined to promote causes, add to their fame, gain fame, or tried to swoop in as a Darkhorse candidate.
Former Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, actor Gary Coleman, columnist Arianna Huffington, Hustler magazine owner Larry Flynt, comedian Gallagher, porn actress Mary Carey and many others entered into the fray, and in some cases, came out with tens of thousands of votes. For example, 47,505 Californians, or roughly 1 out of every 200 voters, thought Huffington could be the next Governor.
However, while many more candidates are expected to declare during the next week before 59 days before election deadline hits, with Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), former Ambassador Ric Grenell, and a possible major Democratic candidate all being rumored to join the current recall frontrunners, the craziness of 2003 is not expected to be repeated.
While there has been the expected mix of experienced candidates and celebrities, the four current frontrunners being former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, 2018 Gubernatorial candidate John Cox, former Olympian and reality show actor Caitlyn Jenner, and former Congressman Doug Ose, haven’t been anything making national headlines outside of Jenner so far. And a big part of that has to do with the new requirements.
In 2003, all a candidate needed to make the ballot in California was $3,500 and 65 signatures. Local political groups were doing this just to bring a member some notoriety, and some business people were going on the ballot as a form of advertisement But this year, 65 signatures are still required, as is a higher filing fee of $4,195 and a new requirement of showing the last five years of income tax filings.
For many, the tax filings requirement is a bridge too far. Made a requirement for all presidential and Gubernatorial candidates in 2019 under SB 27, the new law had been originally passed to combat then-President Donald Trump’s refusal to show his past tax filings. While the presidential part of the new law was later struck down by the California Supreme Court in an unanimous 7-0 decision, it did not affect the gubernatorial requirement of the law. And, despite continued debate, Secretary of State Shirley Weber has said that the law will apply for the recall election this year.
A requirement of 5 years of tax returns
This has deterred several candidates from declaring so far, although Faulconer, Cox, Jenner, and Ose have either confirmed or hinted that they will comply.
“Mayor Faulconer is ready for this election any day, any time and he will meet every legal requirement needed to be on the ballot for this recall. Unlike Gavin Newsom, he isn’t afraid to face California voters and stand on his record,” said Faulconer communications director, John Burke in a statement last week.
Nonetheless, the filings are proving to be a hindrance and may limit the number of candidates running in 2021.
“A lot of people don’t want that sort of information out there,” explained former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe on Monday. “It can be as simple as not wanting to let people know how much they make, but it can also be an issue of personal privacy and protection. Trump stonewalled for a variety of reasons in 2016 through the end of his presidency, and it shifted back and forth between Trump’s team saying that this was solely a political move to the Democrats accusing him of not being worth nearly as much as he claimed. And he wasn’t the only one. [Senator] Bernie Sanders (D-VT) was very reluctant as well before the Democratic Party pretty much told him point blank that he had to.”
“In the recall race, this will definitely stop many potential candidates from going in. I can’t say how many, but seeing that it doesn’t have the same kind of hype as 2003, it is definitely a lower number. And that may stop quote ‘crazy candidates’ unquote, but some legitimate candidates who could receive a decent number of votes may decide to bow out before even getting into it because of it.”
“Where we stand in mid-July will tell.”
Candidates have until mid-July to enter the recall race. Any changes, including party preference, which Governor Gavin Newsom is currently suing to change, also need to be in by that time.
The recall election will be held on September 14th.
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