Supporters of the recall have worked frantically to defend this wasteful partisan power grab, costing taxpayers $276 million. With the next California gubernatorial election only a year away, it is clear the recall opportunists want to exploit an undemocratic quirk in California law that allows minority rule.

Gov. Gavin Newsom will likely win or lose the recall with approximately 50 percent of the vote; he loses with 49.9 percent. If he loses, the challenger with the largest share of the vote, which is likely to be as low as 10 percent to 20 percent given the field of 40-plus contenders, wins. Someone like Larry Elder, the right-wing media personality with no experience or interest in public service until a couple of months ago, could win the governorship with 80 percent or 90 percent of the people voting against him.

What crimes has Gov. Newsom committed to warrant such an extreme reaction?

The recall opportunists say they’re upset Newsom “shut down” the state in response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps they’ve forgotten that early on, when the northeast was ravaged by COVID, thousands of Californians were saved by Newsom’s prudent public health measures.

If you follow California’s COVID rates, two spikes occurred over the last year and a half: one in the winter of 2020-21 after restrictions were eased, and the second that continues today as the delta variant spreads mostly among the voluntarily unvaccinated. Would detractors replace Newsom with a COVID denier like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, whose state has the highest COVID death rate in the country today?

Recall opportunists also complain that Newsom contributed to high housing costs and low quality of life in California. Regarding quality of life, U.S. News and World Report ranks California as the state with the 19th highest quality of life — not as high as we’d like, but not bad for a state as complex as ours. California also boasts the largest economy in the nation, almost double that of Texas, the runner-up, and is fifth overall in the world, behind only the U.S., China, Japan and Germany. Eight of the nine states with the lowest quality of life are run by Republican governors.

Housing prices are high in California because people want to live here; granted, you could live more cheaply in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and many other states. It’s supply and demand. Interestingly, many conservative Californians are happy that their homes are valuable, while at the same time decrying the crisis of California housing prices.

But the gasket-blowing, last straw of the recall opportunists concerns Newsom’s unmasked attendance at the posh French Laundry restaurant for dinner in November 2020, at a time when many Californians were dealing with COVID restrictions and economic stress.

Yes, that dinner showed poor judgment … really, really poor judgment. And it was clearly a mistake, for which Newsom publicly apologized. The dramatic and sustained outrage on the right, however, is quite a bit to swallow given the hypocrisy of other California politicians that has not been similarly condemned. Law and order-touting Minority Leader McCarthy’s flip-flopping and complicity regarding the Capitol insurrection, and recent obstruction of the investigation, is but one example. When was the last time you heard a public apology from Rep. McCarthy?

But, what’s the worst that could happen if the recall installed an inexperienced political media personality as governor? History tells us. Remember when Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to turn California around following the state’s last recall? He quickly discovered the reality of governing wasn’t nearly as easy as the imagined world of superhuman strength and car chases, and confidently drove California into a giant deficit hole. Fortunately, experienced Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown cleaned up the mess, leaving California with an impressive budget surplus.

Larry Elder, the current front-running challenger, would be worse. This dangerous newcomer opposes the minimum wage — not the $15 minimum wage — any minimum wage.

He supports Trump and QAnon’s “stop the steal.”

As a media star, Elder has created an impressive record of hostility toward women and immigrants.

And he dismisses the need for vaccines and masks for children. Does Kern County really need such a real-life terminator who disregards the safety of our vulnerable children?

Please stand up to the partisan power grab and vote no on the recall.

Steve Bacon is a professor of psychology and longtime resident of Bakersfield.