Why Bully Boy Perez Should Concede to Betty Yee



Editors Note: Two days after this article was posted, John Perez did the right thing, called off his recount and threw his support behind Betty Yee’s campaign for Controller.

Former Assembly Speaker John Perez is a bully. He was a bully as Speaker and he’s a bully now, weilding his financial advantage over State Board of Equalization member Betty Yee to use California’s screwed-up election law to cherry pick precincts in hopes of overcoming the 481 votes by which he took third place to his fellow Democrat in June’s election for Controller.

He’s giving “fat cat” a bad name.

When he announced he would be seeking a recount, he issued a statement about how important it is “to ensure that every vote is counted” and how he had made “the defense of voting rights a core part” of his career.

What a bunch of self-serving clap-trap. Perez isn’t interested in ensuring that every vote counts – he wants to manipulate the vote count in the precincts where he performed best in hope of overturning the tally and making the November runoff against Republican Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno.

Yee, as decent and intelligent person you can find in politics, has been remarkably restrained in her reaction, and in the meantime has picked up the endorsement of the California Democratic Party — along with some much-needed cash — and won the respect of myriad others who see her as the actual second-place finisher.

johnperezHow stupid does he think we are? Perez didn’t even show up for the CDP’s endorsement meeting. He’s so arrogant that he figures he can just throw his enormous weight around and power his way to victory, starting with his vote count in those great Democratic bastions that he selected – Kern and Imperial counties.

His supporters argue that he’s only doing what the law allows and that it’s every candidate’s duty to fight to win. Fine, but if you use a broken – and likely unconstitutional – law to selectively recount the vote where you think it’ll do you the most good, just don’t insult the voters by claiming it’s for some civic-minded cause.

As our friend Garry South, as ruthless a Democratic political consultant has you can find on the right side of decency, told Calbuzz:

“There’s no doubt the California law on recounts is completely screwed up and needs to be totally rewritten. But it’s another thing for a defeated candidate to try to take political advantage of the weaknesses of that law by covering it with high-sounding rhetoric about an obligation to make sure every vote is counted — but only in the counties and precincts where he won.”

And as Becky Curry and Jamie Beutler argued in the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday:

A recount threatens to undermine what most Democrats consider a core value of our party – putting the public interest ahead of self-interest. This is not the first time Pérez has put his own goals ahead of party unity. This spring he ignored advice from party elders not to demand a vote seeking endorsement over Yee at the party convention in Los Angeles. Pérez, from Los Angeles and then still the Assembly speaker, pressed ahead with the motion to endorse – and lost, capturing less than 50 percent of the ballots. Calling off the recount now would only work to his advantage. It’s not too late to show party unity and back Yee with all the resources he’s got.

They’re being way to nice.

The ultimate sore loser: Perez thought he could blow by the talented Ms. Yee with a lackluster campaign and his ample political presence. Wrong. Betty eked out a slight victory that Speaker Bully Boy doesn’t want to accept – even though the Secretary of State now says the recount he’s asked for in 15 counties could take until after the November election.

Stand down, Mr. Erstwhile Speaker. And pray that if you ever seek higher office again, you’ll be seen as having done something gracious for your party.

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There are 12 comments for this post

  1. avatar doughnut70 says:

    I think this is unmitigated tripe. I supported Yee and hope she wins, but it is pure arrogance to tell a candidate and his supporters that they should let an election go without making every attempt to ensure that the results are what voters intended. You may not have liked the speaker and I may not have been a fan, but some people obviously cared for him to get so far and they deserve to have their ballots counted. As for the silly comments about length of time for a recount and the nonsense that has been coming out of Sacramento about this recount lasting until November, there have been numerous recounts for legislative seats and they have taken at most a week to complete. The Katz Alarcon race here in LA County with a large number of questionable ballots took exactly five days. Perhaps the Secretary of State can give us a reason why a recount that can go on simultaneously in several counties should take much longer than that, especially since Perez is only targeting certain area’s to see where he stands and technology has gotten a lot better since that race. Too many people think it’s just about getting the results and view themselves as part of an organization first. Elections are supposed to be about reflecting the voices of voters.

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Mr Doughnut, you might have a point if the law provided for all votes to be counted statewide at one time (although a hand count of that magnitude would be hugely expensive and time consuming). But instead the stupid law provides for candidates to pick (and pay in advance for) which precincts in which counties they want counted and in what order they want them counted.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      The law does allow that. But it also allows multiple counties to process recounts at the same time. If you look at the precincts Perez is asking to be recounted, he isn’t picking more than a state Senate district anywhere but in LA County. This whole process should be done by now.

  2. avatar thetruthsquad says:

    First, it would have been good if CalBuzz would disclose to readers that the editors worked side by side for Betty Yee in the Davis Administration so readers could judge whether that impacts the perspective of the writer. Ditto for the writers of the Sacramento Bee op-ed, who are long-time Yee supporters. (And for the record, I have worked with and admire both candidates and will be an enthusiastic supporter of whoever the true winner is).

    It might also be helpful if the writer rose above the juvenile references of Mr. Perez’s size with “throwing his weight around” and “fat cat.”

    More importantly, it would be helpful if the writers noted that Perez is simply following the law. Is the law broken? You bet. A loss by .0001 percent in most states would trigger an automatic recount not paid by any candidate.

    Blame the game, not the player.

  3. avatar woozy says:

    Not commenting on the bulk of the article/opinion on his tenure as Speaker etc, but he’s just doing what California law allows, right? The law may need to be fixed since it has become outdated with population and technology growth, but for now it is the law.

    If I recall correctly, this is similar to what Florida law looked like during Bush v Gore, and Gore selected Democratic leaning counties for a recount. Also well within his rights (and possibly even his only choice since I think Florida law limited his number of counties). Why wouldn’t he do that if allowed?

    (Of course, at that time Republican operatives feigned “shock” and moral outrage — and then started bringing in all sorts of illegal votes like military votes that hadn’t arrived on time despite the law being clear… and then sued to stop a statewide recount. But that’s another story.)

    Question, can Yee also request a recount in, say, San Francisco even if she won the county? Now that could be a fun thing to watch unfold.

  4. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    You know, it’s beyond irony that the nation’s most technologically advanced state — our California — is saddled with a 19th-Century situation on counting votes, or recounting them. Can’t we do something about that? C’mon, Silicon Valley.

  5. avatar Buzzed says:

    Perez needs to go away and back to SoCal for good.

  6. avatar Bill_Wallace says:

    This is what happens when state elected officials spend all their time running for their next political job due to term limitations. Used to be that people hung around in a job long enough to learn how to do it; Now they race through them just trying to stay in office for another couple of terms. That’s how you go from savvy people like Jess Unruh to useless nonentities like John Perez in only a couple of decades …

  7. Perez should have paid the $6,200 to have a candidate’s statement in the sample ballot. Yee had a statement and Perez did not. What a major mistake by the Perez campaign.

  8. avatar Junkman9096 says:

    Well, Perez must have been listening to you. So, how does the general election shape up?

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Swearingen is an attractive Republican candidate, but unless the Democrats fail to unite, the numbers are in their favor for another sweep of the statewide offices.

  9. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    You know, the Republicans may have a real shot here. Swearingen is good-looking, apparently smart and was re-elected mayor of Fresno with a 75 percent margin. It all depends on whether she will be able to keep her very conservative valley Republican base in line while trying to appeal to voters in more liberal parts of the state. Will San Francisco voters go for a mayor of (shudder) Fresno?

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