The Take: Jill Stein’s mystery; Tom Umberg’s hope

Good morning. On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Take that

There must be method behind Jill Stein’s madness of requesting a recount. What it is remains a mystery. Clearly, the Green Party presidential candidate knows she cannot win the presidency by seeking recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The most plausible explanation comes down to money. She raised $6.3 million to pay for the recounts, and so vastly increased her fundraising database for some future run. Perhaps, too, she’s feeling a tinge of guilt.

Stein, who likely took votes from Hillary Clinton, received 51,463 votes in Michigan. Clinton lost in Michigan by 10,704 votes. In Wisconsin, Clinton lost by 27,177 votes. Stein received 30,980 cheesehead votes.

Even if the recount somehow flipped votes in Michigan and Wisconsin – and it won’t – the outcome of the Nov. 8 election will remain as it is. Donald Trump could lose both states and still have 280 electoral votes, more than he needs. In Pennsylvania, Stein received 49,278 votes. Clinton lost to Trump by 70,779 votes there. No recount could possibly flip a result that large. And so the mystery remains.

Take a number: 35,092

The 35,092 people who died in traffic accidents in the United States in 2015 represented a 7.2 percent increase from the previous year, this despite years-long efforts to improve auto and highway safety, The Baltimore Sun wrote in an editorial. One solution: Increase the availability of public transportation, which is a must for the Sacramento region, and for much of the rest of California. “Obviously,” The Sun wrote, “the country needs safer roads, but the failure to invest sufficiently in public transit is more than just bad planning – it’s bound to cost lives.”

Our take

Editorial: Jill Stein’s recount is a sideshow, as is Donald Trump’s voter fraud claim.

Daniel Weintraub: Why transit boosters are hopeful about Trump.

Bill Ong Hing: How Obamacare ruling could save sanctuary cities.

Their take

San Diego Union Tribune: To address the state’s severe housing crisis, California needs far more housing stock – not programs that create the appearance of addressing a problem without actually doing so.

L.A. Times: California’s new attorney general doesn’t have to be a woman, but it wouldn’t hurt.

Miami Herald: History’s arc has bent toward freedom. The Cuban people should take the lead, with U.S. encouragement, rather than a heavy hand.

David French, National Review: Unless Donald Trump significantly changes course, conservatives should get ready for a wild, inconsistent and exhausting four years.

Ruth Conniff, The Progressive: Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, has spent a lifetime fighting to siphon public money into private schools.

Syndicates’ take

Michael Gerson: Trump’s hypocrisy is good for America.

Eugene Robinson: Trump should follow through on Obama’s Cuba deal.

Paul Krugman: Why corruption matters.

Andres Oppenheimer: Latin America could unite in condemning Donald Trump over the wall and deportations.

Trudy Rubin: On edge about Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

No harm in asking

Tom Umberg, a former Orange County Democratic assemblyman, had the unfortunate task of running for California attorney general in 1994, a Republican wave year. Republican incumbent Attorney General Dan Lungren crushed him, though in a classy gesture, Lungren took the time to debate Umberg 11 times, up and down the state.

Dreams die hard. And so Umberg has raised his hand, dearly hoping that Gov. Jerry Brown will nominate him to replace Sen.-elect Kamala Harris.

Umberg is a decent guy and an accomplished trial attorney. He is a former federal prosecutor, a former assistant U.S. drug czar during the Bill Clinton administration, and served in Afghanistan. He also used to serve on the California High Speed Rail Commission.

The Take asked Umberg’s former aide, George Urch, whether Umberg had spoken with Brown. “It’s a work in progress,” Urch answered via email.

Brown knows how to reach him if the need arises, as does Brown’s chief aide, Nancy McFadden, among the other AG candidates.

Tweets of the day

“Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!” – Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a President-elect.” – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla @AlexPadilla4CA

“@sdcritic: @HighonHillcrest @jeffzeleny @CNN There is NO QUESTION THAT #voterfraud did take place, and in favor of #CorruptHillary!” – Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump