Secretary of State Debra Bowen held an informal roundtable talk with reporters yesterday in advance of next week's election, the event I've dubbed the "hangover primary" because it follows the big presidential primary on Feb. 5 that attracted a record number of California voters. Tuesday's election could set an all-time low because there's no statewide candidate or issue to drive turnout.
Bowen, with reasonable restraint, declines to predict what percentage of voters might participate
Since there were relatively few election-related issues to talk about, I asked whether she had seen the new HBO movie "Recount," a dramaticization of the events surrounding the controversial Florida vote in the 2000 presidential election. Bowen, who lives in a rural area outside Sacramento and occupies much of her spare time tending to an expansive vegetable garden, said that she has not. "I don't have cable. I don't get HBO," she said. "I'd like to see it."
She probably should, since it prominently features the woman Bowen said has become a sort of reverse role model for her: former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who became the most celebrated or reviled (depending on one's partisan perspective) elections official in the nation during the Florida vote count. Harris had been an outspoken backer of candidate George Bush, a political affiliation that colored her role as the neutral arbiter of vote-counting issues in the wake of the 2000 vote.
Learning from that, Bowen, who had been a very partisan Democrat during her days in the Legislature, has pretty much removed herself from partisan politics since being elected secretary of state.
Seeing the movie would certainly reinforce the wisdom of that approach.
"I'd like to see it if someone would make me a tape," she said.
There it is, an invitation. Some Democrat out there with a VCR or DVD recorder might want to take her up on it. Send a tape to: Debra Bowen, Secretary of State, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.