Gun Groups may target Sharon Quirk-Silva for Recall


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Gun Activists Tim Knight and Tim Donnelly Unfurl Recall

Gun Activists Tim Knight (center), candidate for Governor Asmb. Tim Donnelly (far right), and “Someone Just Shot Me In The Butt” Bear (left), unfurl recall — and aim it at west central Orange County. Photo used for identification purposes only; credit to Rich Pedroncelli, AP.

1. Spiteful Recall Would Target Latino Legislators — Just Coincidentally

This story didn’t cross my radar until overnight when it was posted by a Facebook friend — make that former Facebook friend, as of this morning — from New England.  If you haven’t been paying attention to what has been happening in Colorado politics, you’re apparently about to find out about it here.

Following a model that has been successful in Colorado, California gun rights activists — I choose not to call them “gun nuts” because only some of them are nuts, and there are extremists in almost every movement — yesterday announced that they plan to sponsor recall drives against California state legislators who have supported gun control legislation this past year.  Among the targets in their sights — sorry, I can’t think of a better way to put that — is North Orange County Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva.

(This means that I win a bet with several of my friends in politics who have a hard time thinking outside of the box — but I can’t remember who they are.  Whoever it is, just pay up.)

The Sacramento Bee gives you the basics:

Having failed to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown to reject a wide-ranging package of gun control bills, pro-gun advocates announced on Thursday they will seek to punish Democrats who supported the measures at the ballot box.

“Every single assemblyman and state senator swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution,” Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, told reporters before speaking at the conference. “And when they violate that oath by trying to erase the Second Amendment, then I think we have a duty” to “remove that threat.”

The recall effort, trumpeted during a press conference on the west steps of the state Capitol building, comes after Second Amendment stalwarts successfully recalled two Colorado legislators last month over their votes for tough new gun control measures. Tim Knight, who launched the Colorado effort, spoke in Sacramento on Thursday about a groundswell of popular anger against California’s gun control package, as did Sam Paredes of Gun Owners of California.

“Since the governor’s action in signing the bills and vetoing bills, we have been inundated with calls and emails, communications with people all over the state of California asking us, what are we going to do about this?” Paredes said, adding that “the recall is one way to send a message: if you continue to do this, we’re going to continue to fight.”

Here’s a sample from an article by radical gun rights proponents:

Everyone keeps saying California gun owners need to do something drastic to help restore their gun rights, which have been largely legislated away in recent years.

Now it appears they are taking drastic steps.

Earlier today, gun rights advocates, along with Tim Donnelly, a Republican state representative, held a press conference on the steps of the California State Capitol building.

Earlier this year the California state legislature passed numerous anti-gun bills. About half of those bills were actually signed into law by the governor.

The California recall effort will target state lawmakers that are seen as weak targets. Senators Norma Torres and Ben Hueso, Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Speaker John A. Pérez are all possible targets for recall.

Do you notice some common theme among those names?  The Latino Caucus of the legislature sure did:

The threats made in front of the Capitol garnered a swift denunciation from the California Latino Legislative Caucus, which noted that the five lawmakers mentioned are Latino.

“Any organization intent on abusing the recall process for political gain should be ashamed of itself,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “The shame is even more stark and pronounced when the strategy targets only Latinos. Californians will not stand for any campaign that is clearly racist and devoid of any political or legal legitimacy.”

Torres also denounced the recall threats made by activists and Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, a potential candidate for governor.

“The fact is I have never supported any effort to strip responsible gun owners of our 2nd Amendment rights,” Torres said. “What I have supported are policies aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of murderers, criminals and in places where they pose an obvious threat to public safety. The voters in my community are smart and will recognize that this is nothing more than a political stunt.”

I had this to say on Facebook:

This development was predictable. Well, they can take Sharon away from us when they pry her from our cold, dead hands.

This is going to backfire gloriously on them if they try it; it will be an incredible organizing tool and will massively raise the amounts she can raise. It won’t be the first time that these guys have shot themselves in the foot.

Now let’s game out how a recall would go.

2. How a Recall Might Blow Up in Proponents’ Faces

First of all, they have to find someone that they want to run against her.  Chris Norby, with his A+ rating from the California Rifle and Pistol Association (I think that the “+” means that he’s actually killed and field-dressed some critter right on the Assembly floor), is the obvious choice.  That would complicate things for the Ed Royce faction of the party, meaning that they have to rush Young Kim out of the oven before she is more than half-baked. This is a significant problem for them, especially because judging from that interview she gave at the GOP state convention, she may never be more than half-baked.  Their worst nightmare (in this venue, anyway) is that Norby regains his seat and gets to run as an incumbent, making it likely that he rather than Kim would face off in the general election a year from now.

Meanwhile, the state Democratic party, which is pretty flush, gets to do some early construction on its fearsome Quirk-Silva re-election machine.  The rationale for such a recall is that with a smaller electorate, in which gun owners are sure to come out, that faction will comprise a larger fraction of the electorate — making it possible for the minority to overturn the will of last November’s majority.  The answer is to expand the size of the electorate — including in, you guessed it! — West Anaheim, which is Ground Zero for Democratic plans to build up our base in the county.  So we’d have a chance to flood the area with resources at a time when nothing else electoral is happening in the state.

Massive fundraising and door-to-door canvassing ensues, including in Latino areas that have generally been hard to reach.  We get to build serious neighborhood organizations there.  (Hell, maybe we can recall the Republicans in the City Council majority as well after all, just to help get out the Democratic vote.)  And the really cool thing is that our party gets to keep the lists!  The Republican Party would get to do so as well, of course, but they are already much closer to getting maximum efficiency out of their electorate.  They might be able to squeeze out an additional 5,000 votes, where we might get an additional 50,000.  (And those votes will be available for us in the primary and general election, too!  Lots of people who are gun friendly still don’t want the most extreme “gun nuts” running everything.)

Individual donors who will have maxed out to Sharon would get a chance to donate again.  So would others who would welcome the opportunity to ingratiate themselves with the Democratic leadership.  (I expect that I’m not the only one who can accept being beaten fair and square in a general election but would be truly fried to be beaten by an extremist fringe in a recall.  Donors to such a drive would be painting targets on themselves in indelible ink.)

Business groups might try to pull out the stops to defeat her — but they wouldn’t be able to operate in the shadows.  They would likely recognize that a lot more damage could be done to them in the legislature in 2014 if Gov. Brown, who is a big fan of Quirk-Silva, decided that he was done being even-handed, so this is not likely the hill they’d choose to die on.  (In fact, their letting recall proponent and extremist Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly die on this hill might downright appeal to them!)

All of this might make it sound like I’d like them to go ahead and try to recall Sharon.  No, I wouldn’t — because there would be a cost.  That cost is distraction.  Sharon’s getting a great reputation in Sacramento — and that requires her being in Sacramento.  If she has to be out here campaigning, we’re not getting our best representation within the party that controls the levers of power.  As Orange County Republicans will admit in unguarded moments, there are some real advantages to having someone up there who can ask for something for the county and get a good answer.

So, as an active Democrat, I hope that the effort falls flat.  (As a blogger, it would probably be insanely fun, but I’ll suppress that interest.)  And as a moderate on gun issues — that’s right, as someone who thinks that the Supreme Court’s Heller decision of five years ago was probably rightly decided as a matter of law, but who thinks that the extremists who try to extend the rights of gun ownership while disclaiming any responsibility for addressing the social evils that it creates are undermining the legitimacy of their cause — I’m sorry that the yammering extremes make the sort of rational discussion of firearms issues impossible.

I have a feeling that that view of things might play pretty well with the public that is sick of handgun violence.  It might even bring a lot of them out in a recall election.  We’ll see.


About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney and General Counsel of CATER. His anti-corruption work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, leading them to work with the Democratic Party of Orange County Chair and other co-conspirators (who had long detested the internal oversight his presence provided) to remove him from the position of DPOC North Vice Chair of in violation of party rules and any semblance of due process. He also runs for office sometimes. Unless otherwise specifically stated, none of his writings prior to that lawless putsch ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Beautiful Bountiful Brea, but while he may brag about it he generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for candidates including Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and (except where noted) without compensation.