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November 17, 2003
He Still Doesn't Get It

Gray Davis, who is out of a job as of today, apparently still entertains notions of apolitical domeback, despite his recent recall:

After five years in office, Gray Davis leaves the Capitol today on an ignominious note, the only California governor ever recalled by voters. But far from being chastened, the 60-year-old Democrat has surprised longtime associates with a reaction that some characterize as deep denial of his fate.

He has hinted at a political comeback — sometimes in a joking fashion, at other times seriously — noting that his removal from office so early in his second term means he still could serve another term as governor, said people close to Davis, all speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Nothing is impossible in politics -- after all, who would have thought that Gore could have screwed up a "gimme" Presidential election in 2000, partly by losing his own home state? Who would have predicted a successful recall election back in 2002? But Davis is kidding himself if he's thinking that Californians would give him another shot at governing, when a record turnout emphatically repudiated him after calling for a costly special election just to have that chance. But that's not how he see it:

"You know, this last election just wasn't in the cards," said Davis, calmly dissecting his defeat. "I don't think there's anything we could have done differently against the opponent we had, other than — not just in the campaign but years ago — had a more aggressive communications strategy with voters. I think that would have led to a reservoir of goodwill that would have stood me in better stead once these external events happened."

I'm sure that would have helped, but it would have been better if he hadn't seemed so sleazy about raising funds, like the sweetheart deal he gave Oracle after taking substantial campaign cash from them. If anything, it was Davis' rapacious image towards fund-raising and favor distribution that infuriated the electorate. Garry South, Davis' political advisor, suggests that Davis could raise funds for non-profits, and that may put Davis to good use. But the reason Davis was good at raising funds was that everyone knew Davis was for sale. I doubt that he'll be all that effective raising funds when he has no favors to offer.

For his part, Davis has dealt with questions about a comeback with a politician's trademark equivocation, saying, "I'm not ruling anything out." What will be Davis' new life after 21 years in elective office remains a mystery. Asked about his future recently, Davis replied, "I still don't have a clue."

Which is why Davis finds himself out of a job today.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 17, 2003 6:05 AM

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