So Long, Bill. Don’t Come Back Soon.

Bill Simon has dropped out of the recall election, prompting Gray Davis’s spokesman to remark that Round Two “is now a sideshow with one less clown.” [*]

As an environmentalist, I’m sorry to see Simon go. He wasn’t just talking about sustainability, he was practicing it: his entire campaign consisted of recycled materials. Well, now they can be composted.

At first blush, having Simon out of the race looks good for Schwarzenegger. If his problem is splitting the Republican vote, having one less Republican in the race must be good for him, right?

Maybe not. Ueberroth’s dropping out would have been good for Schwarzenegger, since they’re competing for the same bloc of moderate Republicans and independents. But Simon voters have another equally conservative (also more experienced, and reportedly much smarter and more knowledgeable) alternative in McClintock, who already had the endorsement of the California Republican Assembly, the biggest membership group on the California Republican right. Notice that Simon simply dropped out and said that there were too many Republicans in the race; he didn’t withdraw in favor of Schwarzenegger.

With Simon out, McClintock will presumably have an easier time raising money and getting press coverage. A single right-wing candidate polling around 20% may also be more likely to hang on to his voters on election day than two right-wing candidates each polling in the single digits.

On balance, then, I guess that this is very slightly bad for Davis, because it makes Round Two slightly less chaotic, and probably somewhat good for Bustamante. The bad news is that it seems more plausible that Ueberroth will drop out, leaving Schwarzenegger a clean shot, than that Huffington and Camejo will do the same for Bustamante.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: