Why won’t the Democrats field a candidate in case the Gray Davis recall goes through? Don’t they understand statistics?

The Republicans are likely to have several candidates in the running. There won’t be any primary voting (there isn’t time, for one thing), so any damn Republican who wants to, from Darrell Issa to Bill Simon to say, a certain foreign-born actor of diminishing box office clout, is going to toss his or her hat in the ring. What happens if you have five Republicans in a race and only one Democrat? It doesn’t take a California State Budget Accountant to figure that one out. Even amid a tide of anti-Democrat anger, the Democrat’s gonna pull that one out.

And there’s not going to be any runoff election. You don’t need a majority to take this race; a mere plurality will do. So Conan could get 15% and if Sheila Kuehl or Tom Hayden or whoever gets 16%, the Democrats stay in power.

But I think if there’s even a single Democrat on the ballot, the chances of the recall passing (and let me be clear — I’m AGAINST Gray Davis being recalled) will diminish. Why? Because a lot of people are lukewarm on Gray Davis. They may not want him recalled, but they don’t care enough to go to the polls to save him. What might get them to vote is if there’s a viable alternative on the ballot.

Republican alternatives will only get Republicans to come out to vote. If you have a whole spectrum of Republican candidates on the ballot, then anyone who supports ANY of those candidates is going to run to their polling place, vote for the recall, then hit the lever for their favorite right-winger.

Put a viable Democrat on the ballot, and that Democrat’s supporters will show up to vote. And once they’re there, they may vote against the recall before selecting they’re replacement candidate. Democrats want to seem unified and show their support for Gray Davis by staying out of the race. But I think that having a Democrat on the ballot will actually HELP Gray Davis. It’s the only way to get Democrats to the polls, and only Democrats are likely to vote against the recall.

The worst-case scenario here is that some really scary right-winger could enter the race. And if the moderate Republicans split the vote, we could have a complete fascist ruling our state, someone who was elected by only 15% of the popular vote.

There’s a simple way to avoid that, but first the Democrats need to do some math.

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