Happy losers

Scott Mednick has a message to the 791 voters who cast a ballot for him in last week’s recall election: What are you, nuts?

“I want to get a list of all those people and give them a good talking to,” said Mednick, who ran on the “Butt Monkey Beer Party” platform with business partner Kelly Kimball in a plot to spread an anti-recall message while drumming up exposure for their nascent brewery. Kimball, a non-Jew, pulled down 495 votes, meaning 1,286 Californians voted for a Butt Monkey future.

“We kept saying ‘For the love of God, don’t vote for me.’ We wanted to make sure the bar was not so low it’d be easy to recall the governor. In some ways we’re pleased, because that bar is high,” the 47-year-old resident of Calabasas said.

Mednick, one of seven Jewish recall candidates profiled in the Oct. 3 edition of j., felt pretty much like his six Semitic cohorts: He knew he couldn’t win but had a blast running anyway.

“I’m excited, I guess,” said Gary Leonard, a Los Angeles photographer who had told j. that he would feel “great” if 100 people voted for him. He nearly tripled that goal with 296 votes.

“I’m a little disappointed the recall passed and Arnold Schwarzenegger won. I heard his speech where he said he’d reach out to the candidates, so I guess I’m expecting a phone call. Maybe I’ll go to the inauguration,” Leonard said.

Bruce Margolin, the limber j. cover boy and veteran marijuana advocacy attorney finished the highest — no pun intended — among the j. candidates. He tallied 7,991 votes to finish 11th (just below the porn star and, surprisingly, George B. Schwartzman, who many observers feel got a boost from voters confusing him with Schwarzenegger).

“The bottom line is, I feel good about it. I was near the top of the heap and I obviously made a point,” said Margolin, 62, of Beverly Hills. “It’s unfortunate so many people hedge their bets on how they voted; a lot of people felt compelled to vote for the front-runner to protect their interests and party affiliation. But the fact that 8,000 people went down to the polls and made a point is very gratifying.”

The attorney’s one regret is that he was unable to “Push my way into the debates early on, like Peter Camejo or Arianna Huffington. If that could have happened, it would have been a more interesting race. But it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I apparently did not know the people who could do that for me.”

With the race over, Margolin will keep his day job as a criminal defense attorney and stay out of politics, unless “someone comes forward with a lot of money to support me and basically drafts me.”

San Francisco’s Dan Feinstein was also surprised and pleased by his vote total of 2,587, though he noted that he may have received a Schwartzman-like boost from people confusing him with Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The two are not related.

“People may have been confused; I see that [Edward Thomas] Kennedy was right up there with me. There was one vote between us,” said the 40-year-old special-effects artist at Industrial Light and Magic.

“But I did get a lot of e-mails from people who came across my Web site based on the radio ad and TV spot I did. Infinity Broadcasting gave us a minute radio spot, free airtime, and people heard them. I got all kinds of responses to that.”

With the exception of Mednick, a friend and business associate of Schwarzenegger’s for decades, the Jewish recall candidates contacted by j. were wary of the ascendancy of “The Austrian Oak.”

“Stardust got in everyone’s eyes. This goes back to when George Murphy won a Senate seat, being an actor of sorts,” said Margolin.

“With actors, people feel they know them. They don’t know anything about their political agenda but think they know them from their movies. And people get stars in their eyes. And the media wants to sell newspapers and wants people to pay 50 cents for a paper when they see a picture of someone they know. It’s unfortunate, but the media are who they are; they’re out to sell papers, not make political statements.”

Other Jewish candidates included Emeryville’s Mike Schmier, who received 1,370 votes; Robert Mannheim, who received 709 votes; and Darren Scheidle, who won the trust of 654 voters.

Though the entry fee was $3,500 and many spent much additional time and money, none of the candidates said they regretted the decision to run. Not that they wouldn’t do things differently a second time around.

“I’d probably take more time off work,” admitted Feinstein.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.