(CNSNews.com) - While some Californians point to the state's $38 billion budget deficit as the biggest reason for attempting to boot Democratic Gov. Gray Davis out of office, one of the nation's most prominent abortion rights advocates argues that the abortion issue is more important and the biggest reason why Davis should be retained.
The Davis recall/gubernatorial election is set for Oct. 7, with would-be replacements currently scrambling to get on the ballot.
NARAL Pro-Choice America is opposed to the recall effort, praising Davis for his support of abortion rights and warning that "anti-choice activists have bought this election."
"Don't let them steal our rights," the NARAL release stated.
Davis was re-elected to a four-year term as California governor last year, but he faces the recall less than a year later after a series of problems - including a budget deficit that is larger than the deficits of all other states combined.
"Far-right candidates who oppose privacy and the right to choose can't win fair and square - so they're trying everything they can to get themselves into power and the government into people's private decisions," Kate Michelman, NARAL Pro-Choice America president, stated in the release.
But in addressing NARAL's concerns, Sacramento-based radio talk show host Eric Hogue borrowed a line from the 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign.
"It's about the economy, stupid. Nice idea to hijack a recall to make yourselves look like the victim, but you got the wrong story," Hogue told CNSNews.com.
Hogue's show gave birth to the recall effort on Feb. 4, when 325 of his listeners signed the petition being circulated by People's Advocate, a non-partisan tax reform group. The Davis Recall.com committee (a People's Advocate project) filed the initial papers in the recall effort.
"There are no social issues attached to this puppy. Believe me, there are a lot of people in this state who would like it to be, but it's not," Hogue said. "This is nothing but Davis not being able to attack a single candidate and run dirty like he does, so he has to make it an issue of the vast right-wing conspiracy...and offer these coined phrases that the left gets scintillated over. And they're lies. The same way that he lied during the campaign about what the budget is, he's lying now, trying to fabricate what this election is all about."
A July 4 Los Angeles Times poll found that the most important problems facing California today are: the budget shortfall (27 percent), education (23 percent), the economy (13 percent), unemployment (13 percent) and taxes (7 percent). The abortion controversy did not show up anywhere in the poll, which was conducted between June 28 and July 2 and included 1,412 California adults - 1,127 of them registered voters.
When asked about the polling numbers and the reasons for the recall, NARAL Pro-Choice America Communications Director David Seldin refused comment, but he did blame U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for spearheading the recall effort. Issa contributed $1.7 million of his own money to the initiative and has declared himself a candidate for governor.
"He has a clearly established position on the (abortion) issue," Seldin said, referring to Issa. Seldin added that the July 25 NARAL Pro-Choice America press release, which details Issa's abortion voting record, speaks for itself.
The Times poll found that Issa was the least popular of the candidates lining up to replace Davis, garnering three percent of voter support.
But Ted Costa, People's Advocate chief executive and chief petitioner of the recall, disputed NARAL's assertion.
"This is not a plebiscite in any way on abortion," Costa told CNSNews.com. "This recall is about the people and their government. It's about the terms and the conditions of the social compact. We're telling everyone in that government that the people trump any notion that they're going to gerrymander districts and decide which candidates are going to be our representatives."
Costa acknowledged that pro-lifers are part of the recall effort but said abortion was never part of the group's overall agenda. Randy Thomasson, executive director of the pro-life Campaign for California Families, who helped gather recall petition signatures, echoed the sentiment.
"We're very concerned about people moving out of the state because of the price of housing and the loss of jobs," Thomasson told CNSNews.com, adding that Davis's "unconstitutional" tripling of the car tax was another factor.
Hogue, who attended a July 28 recall rally in California, said that out of all the speakers there - including two Democrats, one Independent, one Reform Party candidate and three Republicans - nobody mentioned abortion.
"They're hijacking some kind of core issue for the left that is not even in play," Hogue said.
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