Raising Arizona

Angry white men want to take back City Hall

Angered by the Sacramento City Council’s recent decision to boycott Arizona, Republican congressional candidate Paul Smith held a rally outside Sacramento City Hall on June 24 to announce a recall campaign against the majority of the Sacramento council members.

“I hope city council is listening right now … we’re coming for you!” Smith told the crowd of red-white-and-blue-clad supporters, many brandishing American and Arizona flags, and signs with slogans such as “Recall City Hall” and “Armed and Ready With My Vote.”

Smith, who lives in Carmichael, said it was not the city council’s place to boycott Arizona—which has been sanctioned by several California cities including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco—for a controversial illegal immigration law passed in that state earlier this year. “We’re going to take back city council from the folks that don’t pay attention to the voters.”

On June 8, Smith won the GOP nomination to take on incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui in the fall.

One of those disgruntled voters present at the rally was Carol Ann Theiss, who doesn’t see the point in boycotting Arizona.

“There’s a $19 billon dollar deficit in California,” Theiss said, “and they want to waste their time with another state.”

“It’s ridiculous,” added Jean Theiss, Carol Ann’s mother, who donned a white shirt and bucket hat identical to her daughter’s. “I’m here because I’m against the boycott.”

Mandy Morello, who has been working for Paul Smith’s campaign for the last six months, said the recall effort is meant to both to call attention to bad leadership cross the nation and to support Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.

“This is to wake other elected leaders up to tell them that we’re going to hold your feet to the fire,” Morello said. “Illegals aren’t citizens of the U.S. … Our elected leaders should not be putting them above citizens.”

Also present at the rally was conservative radio talk-show host Mark Williams, who announced he’s leaving his Tea Party Express organization in order to run in the (presumed) recall against Councilman Steve Cohn.

“We need those guys out of there!” he shouted, pointing towards the City Hall building.

The first step Smith and Williams took to “get those guys out of there” was setting up a website, www.recallsacramento.com, to collect contact information from potential supporters.

Once they have the information, they say, they can proceed with collecting signatures. But rally organizers weren’t sure how many signatures they would need to mount a recall campaign.

Steve Cohn actually abstained from voting on the Arizona measure. When asked about this, Smith said Cohn is a target because “to walk away from a vote is not his duty. … No longer does he serve the needs of the people.”

Cohn responded to the recall efforts with skepticism.

“I don’t think it goes very far. It’s a publicity stunt,” Cohn said. “In my case, he can’t do it for a year anyway, so obviously he hasn’t read the law.”

When asked why he did not participate in the vote to boycott Arizona, Cohn explained he felt “that this is not something city council should spend their time on.”

As for Mark Williams’ intent to run in the 3rd District despite Cohn’s very recent re-election, Cohn dismissed it as fanfare. “It’s just a publicity stunt for his radio show.”

Williams counters that his Sacramento radio show ended in 2006, though he occassionally hosts on KSFO AM out of San Francisco.

But Smith insisted that the recall announcement was no stunt, and he went on to speculate that Sacramento could be the first city to recall its city council.

“We are ground zero,” he told the crowd. “Let’s give ’em hell!”