Yesterday, the ersatz spokesman/leader of the campaign to recall Mayor Harry Sidhu admitted the effort is a failure. In a post on his Orange Juice Blog, Vern Nelson confessed “there was no way we could collect 17,000 signatures to recall the corrupt Mayor Sidhu by the deadline this weekend.”
Nelson blamed the campaign’s failure on the “severity of the [COVID-19] pandemic in December and January.” In fact, Nelson and other proponents launched the recall nearly a year ago. They were initially delayed due to their bungling of filing and notification requirements, but in subsequent months – as the pandemic ground on – campaign organizers like Nelson routinely claimed widespread voter support for their effort and virtually guaranteed the recall would qualify. Other than some sign-up tables at La Palma Park and other locations for a few weekends, it’s unclear what the recallers did to gather signatures.
Equally unclear is how many signatures the recall actually gathered. Campaign organizers have not disclosed that number, and one suspects it wasn’t anywhere close to 17,000.
Blaming COVID is a cop-out. The pandemic hasn’t stopped the Newsom recall, which will almost certainly qualify for the ballot. Seasoned observers can reasonably conclude the Sidhu recall crashed and burned due to both a lack of voter support and the ineptitude of its organizers.
Left-wing Councilman Jose F. Moreno had said he would run in the replacement election if the recall qualified. With the recall sputtering to an end, Moreno faces being termed out in 2022.
Last year, while the Sidhu recall was supposedly steamrolling along, Nelson also announced her and his allies would also target District 2 Councilman Jordan Brandman for a recall. Even while admitting the failure of the Sidhu recall, Nelson vowed to get Councilman Brandman. Among the litany of reasons cited by Nelson:
Carpetbagged in 2018 from his home in the Colony, just to run in West Anaheim against James Vanderbilt whom he thought would be easier to beat than Jose Moreno.
Nelson omits is that Vanderbilt also “carpetbagged” into District 2. In fact, both Brandman and Vanderbilt were initially elected to the council on an at-large basis. Both live in what became District 3 and subsequently moved to District 2 (in Brandman’s case, after losing the District 3 election to Jose F. Moreno).
During the November election, the same faction behind the Sidhu recall also served as the de facto campaign for District 5 candidate Kenneth Batiste. Nelson confidently claimed strong voter support for Batiste, who ultimately finished a distant last, behind the equally quixotic campaign of Savrina Quezada.
In his post, Nelson claims former Councilmen Vanderbilt is “considering” running in the unlikely event this group can qualify a Brandman recall. That would be interesting, considering Vanderbilt essentially gave up on his 2018 re-election bid – spending only half the $149,000 he lent his campaign and paying himself back the balance. [Last year, Councilwoman Denise Barnes cast a similar vote-of-no-confidence in her campaign, paying herself back the $7,000 she had loaned her campaign rather than spend it on her re-election effort).
Given the organizers history of being long on claims and short on results, skepticism of this latest recall effort is in order.