This proposal is for the next in the series of popular Harry Potter books, in which the intrepid wizard does battle in the terrifying world of California politics.
As you know, since the surprise retirement of series author J. K. Rowling, the books have been crafted by writers as assisted by focus groups and test readers. Here in particular, we understand that some alert readers may detect the shift in locale from Britain to California. Continuity should not suffer, however, for as in past books the main characters will consume exclusively odd British food (“meat pies” e.g.). If our scenario does not test well, the characters can be moved to California through some magical contrivance, or, what may be the least credible option, the recall campaign and election could take place somewhere other than California.
OUTLINE: CHAPTER 1
The book opens with the ex-Slytherin Gray Davis, successfully disguised for his adult life as an aspiring Muggle (i.e. human) politician and California’s Governor, meeting with the evil Lord Voldemort. Voldemort, who has taken the physical form of a coastal land developer, seeks the destruction of Harry Potter. The chapter ends with Davis smiling and accepting a 10,000-galleon contribution.
Here, we join Harry Potter as he is packing to move from the Dursley home, where he has lived with his resentful Muggle cousins since the tragic death of his parents. As he leaves for a group house in Rancho Hogsmeado, the wizard village, the lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead begins to throb. He hallucinates, and sees Lord Voldemort in the library of Hearst Castle, watching “The War Room” and drowning a furry bear in a pool of green slime.
The Dursleys, convinced that Potter is mad, prevent his departure and call the Muggle police. Harry’s chum and Rancho Hogsmeado housemate Ron Weasley detects the peril, and frees Harry, gaining entry into the Dursley home by posing as a recall-petition solicitor. After the dramatic rescue, Ron reveals to Harry that the Weasleys no longer want for money since his father Arthur Weasley departed the Ministry of Magic to establish Weasley Petition Management Consultants. The friends travel to Rancho Hogsmeado over the Pacific Coast Highway in Ron’s Miata, using the reducio charm to fit their bags into the trunk.
Harry Potter and Ron Weasley arrive at their Rancho Hogsmeado group house, and are soon joined by Hermione Granger, their other friend from school. Harry describes the painful scar and the dream to his friends. They argue about what to do, but eventually send word to Harry’s godfather, Sirius, via Hedwig the Owl. Harry and Ron start their jobs; Harry as a schoolteacher and Ron as some sort of consultant.
Meanwhile, hooded Death Eaters arrive at the state capitol to meet with Davis. This attracts no attention whatsoever.
In the final scene of these early chapters, Hedwig returns, but instead of a reply from Sirius attached to his leg, it is a certification from the secretary of state. Someone has completed the candidate filings for Harry Potter to run for governor in the recall election.
These chapters open with Harry fiercely arguing with visitors that he did not file for governor. Even Harry’s wise Hogwarts wizard, Dumbledore, cannot believe that interlopers could file Harry for governor, as such manipulation of a respected Muggle institution like the California secretary of state’s office would require extraordinarily strong magic, and would be forbidden under ministry edict. Cosmo and Wanda, star fairies from Nickelodeon’s Fairly Oddparents, make a cameo appearance to show Harry that, indeed, filing an unwilling candidate in the recall election is against “Da Rules.”
Draco Malfoy, Harry’s nemesis at school, is the steward for Harry’s teacher’s union. Malfoy and his henchmen, as loyal Slytherins and devotees of Davis, make teaching life painful and difficult for Harry. Harry is forced to take a stress-induced leave-of-absence. He spends his days consuming meat pies and butterbeer at Tres Broomsticks Café and Winebar, and corresponding with Sirius, who alone understands the dark power behind his candidacy. Meanwhile, Lord Voldemort, in the form of Pat Caddell, predicts on FoxNews the recall of Governor Davis and his replacement by none other than Harry Potter.
Life gets only worse for Harry. Rita Skeeter reports in The Daily Prophet that Harry’s popularity could only result from some mass Imperio spell cast over suburban neighborhoods. Muggle reporters from the venerable Sacramento Bee write that his success is due to large unreported campaign expenditures. Unidentified sources affiliated with AYSO and skate parks allege Harry has been the source of “walking around money.” California Common Cause files a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Harry refuses an invitation from the League of Women Voters to appear in a debate among the frontrunners and Governor Davis. But someone transforms Harry’s TV remote into a Portkey, and that night on touching the remote he is instantly taken to the debate stage. Although he stutters and stumbles through the event, the attendees and the 57 households viewing the debate at home are convinced that he prevailed.
Meanwhile, bad luck befalls other contenders. A photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger with a tubby tummy hits the newsstands. Bill Simon’s family wealth disappears in a bizarre bank failure. But Arianna Huffington, Larry Flynt, and Gary Coleman, already subject to evil curses, show no change.
Lord Voldemort, taking the form of Lou Sheldon, campaigns within the evangelical community to alleviate anxiety about Harry’s background. His independent expenditures under the theme “Satanic? Semantic!: What California Needs Now is a Little Magic” are a great success.
Harry’s plurality election now seems inevitable. Harry writes Sirius, asking whether he could disapperate and avoid the election. After consulting Rick Hasen’s election-law blog, Sirius informs Harry that it is hopeless — he cannot be removed from the ballot under Muggle law.
Harry, in despair, walks the streets of Rancho Hogsmeado. His scar is aching. He comes upon a pro-recall rally, with a vocal anti-recall protest staged nearby. To one side he spies a group of what appear to be Muggle political staffers — but realizes that something is amiss. Not one of them is talking on a cell phone. Taking a closer look, he realizes that the tallest has a wand in his pocket.
Just as he realizes that the group is Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Voldemort sees him, and the duel is on. The furious battle is drawn into Hearst Castle, where Voldemort now resides. Harry is almost defeated, until Ron Weasley, who knows of only one castle in California, leads Sirius and Dumbledore to the battle.
Voldemort is vanquished, and his spells are broken. California voters forget their magic-induced adoration of Harry Potter, and elect instead a trim Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, absentee ballots cast for Potter before Voldemort’s defeat simply vanish into thin air, and the election remains under a legal cloud for weeks as harried county registrars attempt to explain their disappearance. Nevertheless, Harry returns to his teaching job, secure that he has been saved from the personal ruin that would surely follow his election as governor in the California recall.
— Allison Hayward is a writer in California.