County opposes Denham recall

MERCED -- The Merced County Board of Supervisors has voted to formally oppose the recall of state Sen. Jeff Denham, passing a resolution that calls the effort divisive and counterproductive.

"I don't see the resolution as a political move at all," the board's chairwoman, Kathleen Crookham, said after the Tuesday vote.

"Keeping Jeff in office is what's best for Merced County. It's that simple."

The resolution, which the board unanimously supported, says recall elections are designed to be used only in extraordinary circumstances, and that in the case of Denham, R-Merced, no such circumstances exist.

"Additionally, as we are facing a severe state fiscal crisis, the recall is a divisive and counterproductive effort when our legislators should be focusing on resolving that crisis," the resolution states.

Kevin Spillane, a Denham spokesman, said the county's opposition to the recall is another sign the effort isn't homegrown.

"This came from outside Jeff's district from people who don't live here," Spillane said. "It was bought and paid for by [state Sen.] Don Perata."

Crookham agreed.

"Jeff has become a political football, a sacrificial lamb," she said. "It's ridiculous."

Perata launched the recall attempt in July after Denham, who represents California's 12th Senate District, refused to end a stalemate over the state's budget by refusing to vote to approve it.

Denham's opponents have argued he broke promises to his constituents by not voting for the budget, thus withholding funding for schools and transportation projects. Supporters, citing the bloated budget deficit, argue that his stance was rational and prescient.

The recall election will be June 3.

Monterey County Supervisor Simon Salinas, a Democrat, is running to replace Denham. If he's successful, Democrats will be one vote away from fielding a supermajority in the Senate.

The city of Dos Palos has also passed a resolution opposing the recall. The city of Livingston is scheduled to vote on one next week.