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Gavin Newsom Is Under Fire. Literally.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

California Governor Gavin Newsom can’t seem to catch a break. But that seems only fair since he has been riding the breaks for a while at the expense of the residents of the Golden State. On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Newsom could not remove his name from the recall ballot. That was option one. Newsom was also gracious enough to ask for an additional question asking voters to name his replacement. This is in opposition to the actual process of having voters mark an actual choice from the list of candidates already running. The concern from the Newsom camp was that, should he only receive 49% of the vote, he would have to find digs other than the gubernatorial mansion. Newsom was apparently concerned that he could be unseated by the candidate with the next highest number of votes, no matter how low, whom he could have otherwise beaten in a general election. Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald wrote:

The Motion is DENIED. Plaintiff has established none of the requirements for issuing a preliminary injunction. This request is for a mandatory injunction, which are disfavored. Plaintiff’s federal constitutional rights simply are not violated; therefore, there is no chance that Plaintiff could prevail on the merits. Plaintiff has established no equitable factor favoring a preliminary injunction. In particular, the delay in filing this lawsuit means that Plaintiff seeks to halt an election that, in fact, has already begun, which is a strong indicator that equitable factors are not present here. Finally, decisions of the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit strongly indicate that an injunction should not issue. The request for declaratory relief is denied for the same reasons, and also for being procedurally improper.

Among his other gripes, Newsom was unhappy that he only gets one vote—which, of course, is to stay in office—versus everyone else who will vote either to keep him or kick him out and to choose who will replace him. Fitzgerald wrote in response:

First, as a matter of logic and common sense, it simply is not true that Plaintiff only gets to vote once while others get to vote twice. Plaintiff and all California voters have the opportunity to vote two distinct issues. The first is whether the Governor should be recalled. Plaintiff and all other voters have the opportunity but not the obligation to vote for a replacement candidate. Obviously, that vote only matters if a majority of the voters turn out to have voted “Yes.” Plaintiff and all other voters have the same equal vote as to who the Governor’s replacement should be. Voters do not need to vote on the recall in order to vote on a replacement candidate.

I guess knowing the maître d’ at French Laundry isn’t going to be of much use right now. But Fitzgerald really hits his stride further down in the decision:

Plaintiff plainly feels disgruntled that a replacement candidate with a small plurality might replace a sitting governor who, based on a robust “No” vote, might well have beaten that same replacement candidate in a general election. As that may be, such disgruntlement raises no federal constitutional issues and certainly does not give the federal judiciary the right to halt the mammoth undertaking of this gubernatorial recall election… Reading the Reply, one would think that only those voters who voted “Yes” on the first question have the right to vote for a replacement candidate. (Reply at 6 & n.6). That is not correct. All voters have the right to cast a vote on both parts of the ballot or just the first part (recall) or just the second part (choosing among the replacement candidates).

Comedy gold, ladies and gentlemen. Or whatever you are. You can almost hear the judge muttering, “I’m getting too old for this ####.”

It takes an ego worthy of Louis XVI to request that your name be removed from your own recall ballot, or ask a court to replace the candidates who took the time to place their names on that ballot with a blank space so you can hopefully name your own replacement. Or it takes the disconnect of a 1970s rotary phone to think you are entitled to even try. Or the smug, elitist, and privileged mentality of a progressive officeholder who thinks he deserves his position by fiat. Or all of the above.

Or it could be desperation. Newsom has been catching some heat recently for the way he has bungled the management of the state’s natural resources, which has contributed to the catastrophic wildfires that have rocked California. Although “bungled” may be a bit charitable. In fact, way too charitable. Newsom was a bit off when he told residents how much acreage was treated to lessen the threat of fire—by about 690%. He claimed that his administration had treated 90,000 acres when in fact the number is closer to 11,399.

I spent some time on an E-6 wildland engine. It was not a major career milestone, but I went to fire school and hacked my fair share of fire line, and I can tell you that it is a simple equation, really. The more fuel you have, the bigger your fire is. But any kid who ever roasted a marshmallow can tell you that. On a vacation to Napa two years ago, my wife wanted to see some petrified trees. I figured I could take some time away from the tasting rooms for a nature hike (yes, I am a wine snob. I should post my weekly recommendations, but that would put VodkaPundit out of business). The trees were on private property and it was a nice little hike. It was also terrifying. Everywhere I looked I saw dry fuel, a forest clogged with down and standing dead trees and ladder fuels just waiting for a cigarette butt or a spark from a catalytic converter. It was an inferno waiting to happen. So we saw the petrified trees and got out so my heart rate could return to normal.

I’m not saying climate change has nothing to do with it. Hot temperatures and dry conditions definitely play a role in fire behavior. But so does fuel-loading and believe me, what I saw in just those few acres was frighteningly impressive. Small wonder that California has lost so many acres and homes this year, not to mention the damage done in previous years.

And to top it off, Newsom trimmed the CalFire’s wildfire fund by $150 million, putting a crimp in the agency’s response ability.

Along with the property damage, there is also the potential loss of life for residents and responders. Many seasonal firefighters are college kids just looking to make a buck and fire is a horrible way to die, no matter your age. Look up the 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado and read what happened on Storm King Mountain.

So the courts won’t protect Newsom, and his reputation can’t protect him. It’s ostensibly up to Californians if they want to keep him around. But I have feeling that he and his cronies still have a few tricks up their sleeves.