A new report by the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday revealed that activist and actress Jane Fonda explored and nearly filed paperwork to run for Governor of California during the recall election earlier this year.
Earlier this year, concerns among some Democrats over Newsom’s chances led to discussions of placing a sole Progressive Democrat on the ballot as a counter to the several prominent Republicans on the ballot. With support split between GOP candidates, the goal was to divide and conquer the vote should Newsom be voted out. Fonda looked into running, and was reportedly close to giving it a go, before Newsom began to surge once again in popularity due to the end of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, as well as lowered COVID-19 cases in the late Spring and early Summer.
This caused Fonda and other Democrats who were seriously considering a run to stop and support support Newsom, putting them back in the party line of having no Democrat running as a recall candidate and the sole focus being on keeping Newsom in power. She failed to put in paperwork by the deadline, resulting in no major Democratic candidates running in the recall election.
Fonda, well known for her acting career as well as her anti-Vietnam War activism in the 60’s and 70’s, as well as her more recent activism opposing the Iraq War in the 2000’s, and fighting climate change through her “Fire Drill Friday” rallies in Washington and Los Angeles, would have been the second major actress to entire the recall race this year following Caitlyn Jenner, who entered the race earlier this year.
“Fonda would have definitely brought a lot more eyes on the race, as well as give the Democrats a major reserve candidate in case Newsom dropped back down later in the year,” said former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe on Wednesday. “She wouldn’t have had prior leadership like Reagan did as the head of a major union or Schwarzenegger had through years of being a well-known party member who received some presidential appointments, but she does have a lot of activism experience that’s appealing to many. Some aspects of her past, like going to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, would have turned away some older voters. Other things, like her advanced age – she’s 83, and is a full 5 years older than President Biden – would really be a turn off to younger voters. But she has that name recognition and has a track record of being on the liberal side of most issues that could have convinced people otherwise.”
“But that’s all moot now. Without Fonda, or any other prominent Democrat, things aren’t looking good.”
Fonda could have been difference in recall election this year
According to the latest polls, Governor Newsom only has a razor thin two point lead in not being recalled. Among the candidates hoping to replace him next month, the highest polling Democrat, real estate broker and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, only has a few percentage points of support and is well behind Republican frontrunners such as radio host Larry Elder, 2018 GOP Gubernatorial candidate John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), and Jenner.
The decision not to run Fonda or other Democrats is also being compared to the 2003 recall election.
“In 2003, the Democrats knew Gray Davis would not win and also knew that the Republicans had several major candidates running, including (then-Assemblyman) Tom McClintock and Arnold Schwarzenegger. So the Democrats put up one guy to rally around, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante. And he managed to get a third of the vote. But Davis’ tainting of the Democratic party at the time mixed with the overwhelming popularity and notoriety of Schwarzenegger led Arnold to victory.
“If Fonda was in, she could have been the Democrat’s Arnold this year. It’s quite possible. With a lot more attention on the race with her in it, a lot of Democrats could be pumped up to vote. But instead they went all in on Newsom with no back up plan. And they are starting to reap what they sowed now.”
The recall election is due to be held on September 14th, with by-mail ballots to go out in the next few weeks.
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