Local organizers of the recall effort against state Sen. Jeff Denham said Thursday they're not abandoning the cause, even after state Democratic Party officials said this week the media campaign would end.
Gary Robbins, a Modesto Democratic Party activist who signed the petition that began the recall process, said volunteers across the five counties -- including part of Stanislaus -- in Denham's 12th Senate district will carry on.
"Nothing's going to slow down on this," Robbins said. "The people here want to have a vote."
Robbins said there are several hundred campaign volunteers working for the recall, with plans for such events as phone banks and precinct walks.
Denham's recall is on the June 3 ballot. A simple majority is needed to recall him.
Although Senate Pro Tem Don Perata said the need to focus on the upcoming state budget was the reason for his decision to end the recall campaign Wednesday, Robbins said the reasons to recall Denham, R- Atwater, are deeper than Denham's vote against last year's budget.
Robbins said Denham voted against raising the minimum wage and putting a school bond on the ballot. He did so, Robbins said, to drum up support within his party for a run for lieutenant governor in 2010.
"He's strayed from the path he promised," Robbins said.
Kevin Spillane, a spokesman for the anti-recall campaign, said his side has not changed its plans, even after Perata's announcement.
"For us, the campaign is anything but over," Spillane said. "We're still raising money and spending money because we have to."
Initial money from Perata
The remaining campaign to recall Denham will have less money, Robbins acknowledged. The state-level media campaign had raised millions to combat Denham, but Robbins said he won't have access to unspent money from that fund.
Spillane said that even with Perata's suspension of the state campaign, the recall is no more "grass roots" than before.
Perata provided much of the initial money to begin gathering signatures, Spillane said.
"The reality is that the troops and money for this came from outside of the district," he said.
A media communications professor at California State University, Sacramento, said local activists could take advantage of the momentum Perata's forces started.
"Absentee ballots are going out, people are voting, ads have been made and time bought, mailers are ready to go," said Professor Barbara O'Connor. "They have the tools."
But she pointed out that if Perata believed the recall had a chance to succeed, he might not have chosen to withdraw his support.
The effort to recall Denham began during the summer, after Denham refused to vote for a state budget for fiscal 2007-08 because he said it was unbalanced.
Democrat Simon Salinas, a former assemblyman and current Monterey County supervisor, will be on the ballot as Denham's replacement if the recall is successful.
Salinas said he has suspended his campaign and is concentrating on his duties as supervisor.
"Right now, it's sort of on hold, I've got to wait to see what the local activists will do," Salinas said. "They're pretty angry and frustrated about Perata's announcement."
The Merced Sun-Star contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2331.