Gov. Gavin Newsom has drawn heavy flak for kissing off the voters on capital punishment. He’s also ignoring promises made to voters when they supported a gas tax and vehicle fee increase.
This could be a dangerous trend for the new governor. If a powerful elected official were perceived as two-faced with his word and dismissive of the voters’ desires, he’d be headed for the political cliff.
The voters would become even more cynical and mistrustful of government, making it harder yet for politicians to gain public support for major projects and policy changes.
First, a revisit to the death penalty:
He still does. But he’s being legitimately criticized for snubbing the will of voters after they chose twice in recent years to retain capital punishment. They even voted in 2016 to expedite executions.
Moreover, Newsom previously promised to carry out capital punishment even if he opposed it.
Campaigning in 2016 for capital punishment repeal, the then-lieutenant governor told the Modesto Bee editorial board that if he were elected governor: “I would be accountable to the will of the voters. I would not [put] my personal opinions in the way of the public’s right to make a determination of where they want to take us as [it] relates to the death penalty.”
After Newsom did just the opposite last week, the Bee editorialized that “the governor’s lack of principle and failure to keep his promise is a slap in the face to survivors of heinous murders…. There is no excuse for governing by edict just because a leader doesn’t like what voters have said.”
Last year, when Newsom was running for governor, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that his campaign strategist, Dan Newman, said the Democratic candidate “recognizes that California voters have spoken on the issue and, if elected governor, he’d respect the will of the electorate by following and implementing the law.”
After declaring the moratorium, Newsom was questioned by reporters about breaking promises. He answered that the state Constitution gives him the right to do what he did.
“The will of the voters is also entrusted in me on the basis of my constitutional right to grant a reprieve” to murderers, he said.
But what about his promise?
“I’ve had to process this in a way that I didn’t frankly anticipate,” he said. “A few months ago, it was an abstract question…. [Now] this question is real … a question that goes deep to who I am.”
He is unequivocally a death penalty opponent. But he’d also better make sure he isn’t seen as a governor whose word isn’t worth squat.
Read the rest at: Newsom