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Wednesday | July 23, 2003

Things quickly getting more interesting in CA

So the recall election will happen, no one disputes that. But things are suddenly more interesting.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has announced he will quickly set a date for the recall election as required by law. However, that's just half the equation. The other half -- a vote to choose the successor, may be postponed making Bustamante the new governor of California.

Facing the biggest decision of his career, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said Tuesday he will likely take no more than 24 hours from the day the choice is his to set the date for the recall election of Gov. Gray Davis.

But he said he will leave to an independent commission and the California Supreme Court a decision on whether he becomes governor himself -- without an election to determine a successor -- if Davis is recalled.

The lieutenant governor, however, said he would not call for the election of a Davis successor on the same ballot.

After consulting with lawyers from the offices of the state attorney general and legislative counsel, Bustamante said he believes the California Supreme Court will ultimately decide a successor should Davis be recalled. The interpretation calls into question the widespread assumption that the election would determine a possible successor as well.

"Article 5, Section 10 of the Constitution states the lieutenant governor becomes governor in the event of a vacancy," said Deborah Pacyna, a spokeswoman for Bustamante. "It provides that the state Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to determine questions regarding succession. And it calls for a body, the Commission on the Governorship, to be created by the Legislature to consider such questions."What does that mean? Who knows? It depends on who you ask. But what is clear is that the state constitution is not clear cut on the requirement for a succession ballot. That is, it empowers the Lt. Governor to call such an election "if appropriate".

SEC. 15. (a) An election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor shall be called by the Governor and held not less than 60 days nor more than 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures.
As far as I'm concerned, I would be ecstatic with a Bustamante governorship, so I don't think a succession ballot is "appropriate". But I could see how the recall backers would disagree.

So the California Supreme Court will likely have final say on the matter (though they might not). And if the Court backs Bustamante?

Then Issa will have spent millions to allow Californians to replace one corrupt, sleazy Democrat (Davis), with a popular, Latino, and far more progressive Democrat (Bustamante).

And that, my friends, would be what a happy ending looks like.

(If you want more on the issue check out the Political State Report regularly. All of the California contributors have been on the ball, offering different and insightful interpretations.)

Posted July 23, 2003 01:30 PM


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