Total Recall: Schwarzenegger Wins Gubernatorial Election Over Bustamante and McClintock
October 8, 2003
SACRAMENTO, CA - The votes have been counted, and Gray Davis will be out of the governor’s mansion by the end of the year. In his place will be actor turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, who charged to the front of a packed crowd of over one hundred candidates in an election that brought out some of the strangest candidates in the state’s history. On Tuesday, California voted to recall governor Gray Davis by a margin of 55.4% in favor and 44.6% against, making the second time in United States history that a state governor has been recalled. In the second question on the ballot, nearly half of the 8.6 million ballots cast chose leading Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace governor Davis. Democratic candidate and lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante came in second with 31.5%, while another Republican, state senator Tom McClintock, came in third with 13.4%. Green Party candidate Peter Camejo was the only other candidate to top one percent.
Peter Camejo, who received over five percent of the vote when he ran on the Green Party line for governor last year, received a respectable 2.95% and over 250,000 votes. Camejo was the only candidate in the recall election to visit Humboldt County during the campaign, making several campaign stops in the county in September. It is no surprise, then, to hear that Humboldt County was the most favorable county for the Green Party candidate. Camejo received over 4,000 votes in Humboldt County, garnering 8.86% of the county’s 45,281 total votes. Peter Camejo actually finished third here ahead of McClintock, making Humboldt and San Francisco counties the only counties where Camejo finished third. Humboldt County, along with Mendocino County, have the most registered Greens per capita of any United States county.
The Upset of Upsets!
December 10, 2003
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The city of San Francisco is often known for being on the leftiest of the left in American politics, but not even Bay Area pundits expected the outcome of the San Francisco mayoral election yesterday. For Democratic nominee Gavin Newsom, the election should have been a foregone conclusion. Newsom’s 41.92% of the vote in last month’s first round of the election was over double that of Matt Gonzalez, the Green Party candidate who surprised seasoned politicians by even making it to the runoff. In one of the greatest political upsets of recent history - and this is coming from a state that elected Arnold Schwarzenegger governor last month - Matt Gonzalez defeated Gavin Newsom in the runoff election with 51.3% of the vote.
Against Gonzalez, Newsom had the full backing of the Democratic Party. Newsom was a protege of retiring mayor Willie Brown, and had prestigious names in the Democratic Party from Senator Diane Feinstein and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to Bill Clinton and Al Gore making campaign appearances for the Democratic candidate. Along with the backing of prominent Democrats, Newsom also had a massive financial advantage going into the election. The candidate spent over $4 million on his mayoral campaign compared to Gonzalez’s $400,000. Everything appeared to be in Gavin Newsom’s favor going into election day.
Except, this backing may in fact be what drove San Franciscans to reject Newsom in favor of Matt Gonzalez. Newsom’s entrepreneurial experience and slick appearance combined with the county board member positioning himself as the moderate of the race may have alienated enough of the city’s more progressive voters Gavin Newsom was appointed to his position on the county board of supervisors in 1997 by mayor Willie Brown. In contrast, Matt Gonzalez won election to the board of supervisors in 2000 after switching his party affiliation to the Greens as a direct statement against the “Brown machine” and corruption in San Francisco.
Unlike Newsom, Matt Gonzalez embodies the left wing ideology San Francisco has gained a reputation for. After earning his law degree at Stanford University, Gonzalez was a public defender in San Francisco for nearly a decade before running for the board of supervisors in 2000. Now 38, Gonzalez does not own a house or a car. Instead, he rents an apartment in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the home of hippie culture in San Francisco. This is certainly a stark difference in image to Newsom’s house in the affluent Pacific Heights, one that was apparently not lost on voters in San Francisco yesterday.
This image of Matt Gonzalez and his bucking of traditional political affiliations struck a chord with younger, more apathetic voters in San Francisco. Many of Gonzalez’s most vocal campaigners were students and those in their 20s and 30s who felt disenfranchised by the current crop of Democrats in power locally and statewide. To them, Matt Gonzalez was a breath of fresh air, a “real progressive” untainted by the corruption of traditional politics. Gonzalez rode this wave in his first election to the board of supervisors in 2000 when he defended attacks by Democratic opponent Juanita Owens on the Green Party’s spoiler effect with Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election. Now, Gonzalez rides that discontent and urge for something different to the most important office a Green Party member has ever been elected to. “This really is a victory for progressive ideas,” Gonzalez strategist Ross Mirkarimi said following Gonzalez’s victory. “We have shown that you can run a strong, effective campaign outside of the two mainstream parties.”
With Matt Gonzalez set to take office as the city’s 42nd mayor on January 8, 2004, the focus turns to the future. The question now not whether Gonzalez can succeed in his new position. He has proved his capability in city management in his role as president of the board of supervisors for the past year, even receiving support from the board’s lone conservative Anthony Hall. The real question going forward is can his success be reproduced elsewhere. The ridicule of the Green Party as an unelectable idealist party no longer applies. With Arnold Schwarzenegger in the governor’s mansion and now Gonzalez potentially leading the Green Party to new heights, the Democratic Party establishment in California could find itself in trouble as it is flanked on both right and left.
Mayor Gonzalez Appoints Ross Mirkarimi As Board Supervisor Replacement
January 12, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Mayor Matt Gonzalez was sworn in to succeed outgoing mayor Willie Brown just four days ago, but he is already facing unjust attacks by the Democratic establishment for one of his first actions as mayor. As Gonzalez took office, one of his immediate responsibilities was to appoint a replacement to fill his seat in the Board of Supervisors. Gonzalez appointed environmental activist and former investigator Ross Mirkarimi. While many applauded the decision to appoint Mirkarimi to the District 5 seat, many Democratic officials criticized the appointment, citing Mirkarimi’s position as campaign spokesman and strategist for Matt Gonzalez’s mayoral campaign.
Much of the criticism of Matt Gonzalez’s appointment revolves around the lead role Mirkarimi played in Gonzalez’s election as mayor. State Assemblyman Leland Yee, who served alongside Gonzalez in the San Francisco board of supervisors from 2000 to his election to the Assembly in 2002, was quoted as saying “Gonzalez’s selection has an air of typical local corruption: to the victor and the victor’s friends go the spoils.” Others have commented that for a candidate who ran on a platform of moving away from the corruption of former mayor Willie Brown and for cleaner government, mayor Gonzalez is not making a good show of any shift in attitude in the mayor’s office.
However, mayor Gonzalez has balked at the accusations of corruption in his decision, calling them “baseless, hypocritical, and borderline slander.” In a defense of his choice of Mirkarimi, Gonzalez touted Mirkarimi’s record. “Ross Mirkarimi has one of the most extensive records in solving the issues this city faces that I have seen, from working with District Attorney [Terence] Hallinan to his strong fights for many issues supported by the members of the 5th district. I have utmost confidence in Ross to serve the voters of the 5th district well.” Though the board of supervisors is officially non-partisan, Mirkarimi, like mayor Gonzalez, is a member of the Green Party, which may have factored into the appointment. While defending his decision, mayor Gonzalez joked that with a field such as Green Party members, finding sufficiently experienced candidates could be difficult, encouraging “a wider field of candidates in the future” to select from.
Ross Mirkarimi has said he looks forward to working with his colleagues on the board of supervisors. He enters office already looking forward to another election campaign, as the district 5 seat will be up for election in November of this year. With Mirkarimi’s experience and the support of mayor Gonzalez, however, it is difficult to imagine Mirkarimi struggling for election to a full term.
 In OTL Peter Camejo received 242,247 votes in the recall election. He did in fact come third in San Francisco with 6.33% to McClintock's 5.80%, and came close to third in Humboldt County at 7.21% to McClintock's 8.82%. Also, Camejo did in fact visit Humboldt County during the campaign.
 The OTL results for the San Fran mayoral runoff were Newsom 52.81%, Gonzalez 47.13%.
 Ross Mirkarimi would also go on to succeed Matt Gonzalez as the District 5 supervisor in OTL, being elected after Gonzalez declined to run for reelection in 2004. Mirkarimi later returned to the Democrats in 2010