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Gun limits could lead to recalls of legislators Joe Garofoli Updated 11:06 pm, Thursday, October 10, 2013

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Daunting task

It would take a daunting 70,000 signatures, for example, to recall someone like state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. She is the author of a bill on Brown's desk that would prohibit someone with two or more drug or alcohol convictions within a three-year period from possessing firearms. Gathering signatures for a seat like Wolk's might take $125,000, insiders predict.

But an easier target might be a legislator who was elected during one of several low-turnout special elections that have been held in California this year, Paredes said.

For example, it would take roughly 5,000 signatures to call for a recall of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-Sherman Heights (San Diego County), who won a special election in May. About 7,000 signatures would be needed to qualify a recall of state Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona (Los Angeles County), who also won a special election in May.

"You could do those (gather signatures) with volunteers," said Dave Gilliard, a longtime GOP consultant in California who worked on the 2003 recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

Democrats now enjoy two-thirds majorities in both the Assembly and state Senate, but their hold on the supermajority is tenuous. Losing more than one seat in the Assembly or two in the state Senate would end their ability to pass a tax increase without at least some Republican support.

But before any seats change hands, a lot of street-level political work needs to be done.

Any campaign to recall a state legislator "would have to do a lot of voter education," Gilliard said. "Most voters have no idea who their state senator is or what they do."

Plus, while the gun-rights issue strongly appeals to the conservative base of voters in California, "it's hard to broaden it out from there to make it a winner at the ballot box," Gilliard said. "It can be done, but it would be hard."

Convincing voters

Perhaps a greater challenge might be motivating voters to throw somebody out of office.

"To recall someone, it's not enough to just disagree with someone on policy," said Sal Russo, national strategist for the Tea Party Express and a veteran of several recall efforts in California. "Voters have to believe that there is political malfeasance."

Joe Garofoli is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @joegarofoli