Guard union drops effort to recall Schwarzenegger
October 16, 2008
SACRAMENTO – The powerful union that represents California prison guards dropped its recall campaign against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday.
California Correctional Peace Officers Association spokesman Lance Corcoran said the union decided instead to concentrate on issues on next month’s ballot.
And even if a recall succeeded, it would knock Schwarzenegger out of office only a few months early, Corcoran said.
The union launched its campaign last month in frustration over its lack of a state contract since 2006.
The secretary of state last week rejected the union’s first recall petition on technical grounds. The union had until Friday to try again.
“We will not be refiling our petition regarding the recall,” Corcoran told The Associated Press.
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“The reality is the recall process would only remove this governor for six or seven months and the resources of California and the CCPOA need to be reprioritized on issues and candidates that actually benefit California,” he added.
The union would have needed to collect more than 1 million signatures to put the recall before voters in mid-2009. Schwarzenegger’s term ends in 2010.
A Field Poll of 1,008 registered voters last month found that 69 percent felt another recall election would be harmful, while just 29 percent would support recalling the governor. Schwarzenegger took office in 2003 after the successful recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis.
The recall effort also drew little support from other state labor unions that the prison guards had hoped would back a recall.
“We thought all along that this recall talk was totally unproductive. The state is facing some real issues and challenges right now and that’s what the governor is focused on solving,” said Julie Soderlund, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger.
“The governor is still committed to the negotiating process,” she said. “However, he’s not going to give this union the sweetheart deal that they’re looking for.”
Union delegates endorsed the recall at a raucous Las Vegas convention last month when they re-elected president Mike Jimenez, who said he needed the threat of a recall to force Schwarzenegger’s hand in stalled contract talks.
Jimenez also had said the governor should be recalled for widespread leadership failings, most recently his inability to craft a balanced budget. Legislators approved a budget last month after a record 85-day delay. But the spending plan is already in trouble because of the nation’s economic woes.
Jimenez declined to comment on the decision to drop the recall campaign Thursday.
Jimenez had promised he would not spend the bulk of the union’s own considerable campaign war chest on the recall effort. It could cost $3 million to gather enough signatures to force a recall and tens of millions of dollars for a campaign leading up to a special recall election that could cost taxpayers $100 million.
Union officials said they will now focus their time and money on defeating Proposition 11, a Schwarzenegger-backed measure on the Nov. 4 ballot that would change the way legislative districts are drawn.
They also oppose Proposition 5, which would require the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on drug rehabilitation programs instead of sending addicts to prison or jail. The union donated $1 million this week to oppose the initiative.