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‘This is a game of Russian roulette’: Gray Davis on the Newsom recall

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OAKLAND — Former California Gov. Gray Davis may be the only person on the planet who gets what Gov. Gavin Newsom is going through these days, trying to salvage his political future while managing a major crisis.

"It’s not fun," said Davis, who was recalled in the 2003 election that brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to power, the only time a California governor has been ousted. “You have to deal with it, and you have to decide how to divide your time."

Davis, in an interview with POLITICO days before Tuesday's vote, was circumspect about the quirky recall process that has now resulted in two California governors facing a race for their political lives in less than two decades. Activists circulate recall petitions against every sitting governor, but they only caught fire — and money — against Davis and Newsom.

If a majority of voters support a recall, a replacement candidate only needs to corral a plurality of votes to win office. Conservative talk show host Larry Elder has galvanized GOP support this summer and could take office with several million fewer votes than Newsom gets.

“This is a game of Russian roulette," Davis said. “And at some point, for sure, a governor who got more votes than his successor will have to leave office — because he failed to reach the 50 percent threshold."

Newsom can console himself with one thing as he faces Tuesday’s historic contest: 2021 isn’t 2003, not by a longshot, Davis said. One major difference is the political makeup of California, where Democrats today hold a 2-1 advantage over the Republican Party. As Newsom faces recall, "there's approximately 5 million more Democrats than there are Republicans,"........

© Politico

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