Newly-elected state Sen. Josh Newman is being targeted for a recall for his support for the massive gas tax hike engineered Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic leaders of the legislature.
Lake Forest Councilman Andrew Hamilton is being targeted by a recall by the forces of former Councilman Adam Nick because that is what Adam Nick does.
Now, a group of Newport Beach voters are trying to recall Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter for…being Scott Peotter.
The would-be recallers were active in the citizen drive to qualify a referendum on the ill-fated Museum House project. Peotter, a life-long property rights advocate, voted to approve the project. He also opposed rescinding the approval after the referendum qualified; the alternative was to allow the referendum to move forward. The activists wanted a referendum, and Peotter voted to give them what they wanted.
Peotter has represented District 6 (Newport Beach councilmembers run from council districts but are voted on city-wide) since 2014, winning 51.9% of the vote. He has been an ardent, out-spoken conservative activist since the 1980s. He have never been shy or evasive about speaking his mind or articulating his views. The Scott Peotter whom Newport Beach voters elected in 2014 is no different than the Scott Peotter of 2017, who is the same as the Scott Peotter of 1990. What vote has he cast as a councilmember that has surprised anyone?
The recall was not established as a “do-over” or a way for organized interests to endlessly conduct elections until they get their way. Recalls ought to be reserved for serious matters such as abuse of office or betrayals of core commitments. A difference of opinion over a land-use issue hardly rises to that level – politics is about differences of opinion. Such disagreements lie squarely in the realm of electoral politics, to be hashed out in the campaign arena at the next regularly scheduled election – which happens to be next year.
Councilman Peotter will not be facing his adversaries alone. Bob Rush, a Democrat, has formed a Peotter support organization called the Save Free Speech in Newport Beach committee. According to the Daily Pilot:
In going against what Rush describes as the big-spending Newport Beach political establishment, Peotter has expressed some personal views that he’s now being “unfairly targeted for” as part of a “witch hunt,” Rush said in an interview Wednesday.
“I don’t agree with everything Scott says,” Rush said. But, he added, “to be persecuted for his opinions is ridiculous.”
Rush said in a statement circulated by Peotter’s 2014 campaign manager, Dave Ellis, that he became involved in city politics more than a decade ago to stop “the overconcentration of drug and alcohol rehab homes in West Newport.” He said he has fiscally conservative ideals but also some socially liberal stances, such as support of gay marriage.
The Republican Party of Orange County voted last night to oppose the Peotter recall. Daily Pilot columnist Barbara Venezia called it “risky”:
Is the timing right for the Republican Party to show support for Peotter and risk ostracizing moderate Republicans in Newport?
The public’s contribution to the defeat of the Museum House project is a major factor influencing Newport’s current political climate. The fact that ordinary citizens took back control of the issue of high-density development is powering an uptick in community involvement. I believe this is what’s fueling the fire of recall now.
Can the Republican Party risk ignoring this?
Regardless of one’s stand on Musuem House in particular or development in general, what would Venezia have the OC GOP do? Turn its back on someone who has devoted his adult life to the conservative Republican cause – the same cause for which the OC GOP still toils? Throw that person to the wolves in order to curry favor with group of so-called Newport Beach moderates? Parties and movements aren’t built on such capriciousness. The Republican Party of Orange County has enough problems without adding disloyalty and fecklessness. The OC GOP did the only thing it could do — the right thing. If that’s risky, then we have bigger problems.
Those attempting to recall Peotter have every legal right to do so. However, that does not mean they ought to do it. The reasonable, prudent, balanced course – the way of moderation and reason – the path of good sense – is fight it out like good Americans during the 2018 council campaign, rather than wasting taxpayers time and money with a recall. This matter can wait.