Berkeley physician and inventor Kenneth Matsumura wants to terminate the Terminator, and if preliminary results are any indicator, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may face a recall vote in next June’s general election.
“This man has to be stopped. He’s using California as a movie set, rampaging around and tearing things up,” said the physician.
Matsumura, whose inventions include the first-ever artificial liver, says he’s received an overwhelmingly positive response to his recall proposal.
“It seemed a daunting task, but then I realized we could do it if 35,000 volunteers gathered 40 signatures apiece. We have thousands of volunteers already, and we haven’t even put together a staff yet,” he said. “People are pouring in donations, and there’s lots of camaraderie.”
Matsumura said the idea for a recall has been in the air for some time, but it was talks with some of his poorer patients that inspired him to transform thought into action.
“Hospitals and healthcare facilities that care for the poor are on the verge of closing because the governor refuses to raise taxes,” he said. “When it comes to health care for the poor, every time we take one step forward, we have to watch Schwarzenegger take four steps backward.”
Similarly, he cited Schwarzenegger’s broken electoral promise to preserve the state education budget.
To take his dream to the ballot box, Matsumura said he’ll need to gather 1,040,00 signatures—15 percent of the turnout in the last general election.
“Living and working in Berkeley and Oakland, you often hear people talking about the problems the governor is causing and you hear people asking why doesn’t someone start a recall. I said and thought the same things. But it was talking to my patients who are poor that got me to think, maybe this is a better use of my time.”
A product of the 60s, Matsumura said he had been inspired by the rise of the student movement in Berkeley, and by President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural call to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
“I see that same idealism and enthusiasm in the people who have been contacting me,” he said.
Matsumura’s campaign has drawn international attention, landed him on the front pages and given him considerable exposure on the electronic media.
Last week he was hustled for a Los Angeles radio appearance on what he later discovered was an archconservative’s radio talk show. To his great delight, the show produced a mass of hits on his web site, www.recall2006.com (also found at www.savecalnow.com).
To land the measure on the ballot, Matsumura first needs 100 signatures on a preliminary petition verifiable by the Secretary of State—who must also approve the language that will appear on the larger petition drive and on the June ballot.
If all goes as planned, Schwarzenegger would be recalled in June, giving the legislature time to pass measures previously vetoed by the governor before a new legislature is elected in the fall. Matsumura said he’s shooting for the general election, rather than a costly special election.
“I don’t think we’ll have trouble getting the signatures,” he said. “I would think we’d get most of them in San Francisco and the East Bay. But we’ve already got volunteers in places like Los Angeles, Stockton and San Diego. I even got a donation from Dallas!”
Today (Tuesday) he’ll be a guest on Air America, the liberal radio talk network, and more interviews are on the way.
The momentum seems to be on Matsumura’s side.
“It’s been an incredible week,” he said, “and I’m glad we’re doing it.”