San Francisco State University -- September 26, 2003

San Francisco State University experts on the Oct. 7 recall election

San Francisco State University offers several knowledgeable experts on politics who can provide analysis on the Oct. 7 recall election. For additional assistance in reaching faculty experts, please call the Office of Public Affairs at (415) 338-1665.

Robert Smith, professor of political science, is expert on American politics and its history. Smith says that however one judges the performance of Gov. Gray Davis, the recall challenges the democratic process.
"The recall is reckless and contrary to the American republican tradition (Madison and the other framers of the Constitution would surely recoil in horror at this process). Indeed, the idea of the immediate recall of elected officials is a Marxist idea, advanced by Marx and Engels in their radical theory of democracy. Although it is not likely to happen, the legislature should consider repealing or radically reforming this provision of the Constitution,” Smith said.

Smith can be reached at (415) 338-7524 or (510) 222-7273 or via e-mail at rcs@sfsu.edu

Francis Neely, assistant professor of political science, is an authority on the election process. Neely says that the recall is a reason to take a new look at the election process in California.

"The California recall brings to light questions about direct democracy and the means by which we practice it. In theory, direct citizen input seems appropriate and valid; in practice, aggregating citizens' preferences can be tricky. Our unusual rules for recalling state officials should be changed to avoid another election like this one," Neely said.

Neely can be reached at (415) 386-3748 or (415) 338-1522 or via e-mail at fneely@sfsu.edu

James Martel, assistant professor of political science, is an expert on American politics and political theory. Martel says the recall highlights the limitations of our political system.

"I think that this recall situation is fast turning into an example of the constitutional crises that periodically wrack the country. The constitution and our subsequent system of government is not particularly well suited for very difficult political decisions--as many have famously said, we tend to 'muddle through' rather than make definitive decisions. As a result, many problems fester and remain intractable or are 'resolved' by means other than passing laws and making collective decisions," Martel said.

Martel can be reached at (415) 405-2162 or via e-mail at jmartel@sfsu.edu

Corey Cook, assistant professor of political science, is an expert in California politics. Cook says that the top candidates for governor are currently facing a two-fold job: campaign and prepare to govern the state if they win.

"Unlike a governor elected in a 'normal' general election, there will be no time or money for a transition, they will face a legislature whose leadership and entire membership is already in place (and the vast majority of whom represent safe districts), and extraordinary demands within the first several months of the term. Rather than seizing the reins of political power, if indeed Governor Davis is removed from office, the next governor will have to find a way to fit himself into a preexisting government," Cook said.

Cook can be reached at (415) 405-2471 or (510) 336-0978 or via e-mail at coreyc@sfsu.edu

Note to editors: Cook is only available for print and radio interviews.

Contact: Ted DeAdwyler (415) 338-1665


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