Uncle Leland may not get many votes of confidence in a court of law but when it comes to a quarter-million California voters, Shrimp Boy’s buddy is apparently A-OK.
Leland Yee, the suspended state senator currently looking at federal corruption and gun trafficking charges, is so awesome in fact that he ended election night third in a pool of eight for the secretary of state gig. Despite those pesky criminal charges and that side note that, oh yeah, he withdrew from the race, Yee ended the night better off than most of his opponents.
Third. Honorable mention. We’ve got the winner. Then we’ve got the almost-winner. Next up, Leland ahead of five others including some actual serious contenders. That means nearly 10 percent of voters think a guy linked to a murder-for-hire scheme is better suited for office than people with a less dubious resume. Either that, or they are illiterate and don’t follow the news.
Admittedly, Yee was always assured some support. Some contrarian voters always opt for the outsider, the weirdo, the guy with the crazy name, the strange platform or the person whose chances make a snowball’s survival in hell seem like a solid bet.
Remember that wacky 2003 California gubernatorial recall election? Porn star Mary Carey, child actor Gary Coleman, publisher Larry Flynt — these people brought home votes and they didn’t even have the political chops of Yee.
So what can we take from Tuesday’s Yee Ol’ Election Results?
Call in the United Nations vote monitors because obviously we’ve learned that elections are rigged. Shrimp Boy must have pulled some strings in the hopes Leland’s good showing in the political arena helps polish up his image for his pending fight in the legal arena.
We’ve also learned that voters like a man who defend rice noodles and shark fin soup. Forget the hypocritical gun bills. A man who stands up for culinary choice can’t be half bad.
More realistically, though, the real lesson is that voters are dumb. There I said it. Voters do not take the time to educate themselves and go with the name recognition. Revisit Tuesday’s column for further explanation.
Or, perhaps voters are smart. By choosing Leland Yee, wishy-washy voters are able to have their civic cake and eat it, too. An individual does what he or she is supposed to — vote — but needn’t worry about their preferred candidate actually winning. This frees them from having to do any mental heavy lifting with the voting guide. Consider it similar to a friend who offers help with a less-than-fun job, moving perhaps, that they absolutely know you will refuse. The friend gets kudos for trying while completely escaping having to follow through.
Voters are smart, part two. To paraphrase some tweets making the post-election rounds, if we’re going to have a crook in politics we might as well get one who likes guns. Or, maybe just get the devil we know. It’s those candidates and politicians who try hiding their crazy and felonious streaks that undoubtedly fall off the pedestal.
Another life lesson pulled straight from the headlines: embrace the last name. After Leland Yee got his perp walk and dropped out of the race, controller candidate Betty Yee made a point to tell voters that she is different than that shady secretary of state hopeful. Perhaps she should have played up the similar moniker rather than defining her distance. Voters confused about what either of the two offices do might have given her an extra push.
But for everything Election Day may have taught us about the human capacity for ridiculousness, there is still one question that remains unanswered: Who got Leland’s vote?
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.