On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom and his national-level Democratic political allies launched a campaign in opposition to the ongoing recall efforts against him, arguing that the movement is powered by "a partisan, Republican coalition of national Republicans, anti-vaxxers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-immigrant activists, and Trump supporters."
Presumably recognizing that the recall campaign against him will indeed prompt a vote, the governor's fundraising effort, coined Stop The Republican Recall, boasts statements of support from left-wing stars like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Alex Padilla, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Katie Porter, and Stacey Abrams. The message above their statements reads:
"Our broad coalition of endorsers is committed to fighting back against the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, assorted conspiracy theorists, and hard-core, anti-immigrant Trump supporters who want to overturn Governor Newsom's election and stop California's progress in combating COVID-19."
As previously reported by UncoverDC, approximately 1.5 million validated signatures are needed for the recall to qualify. According to the campaign's senior advisor Randy Economy, the total number of signed petitions collected as of last Thursday is 2,060,000. Organizers have until March 17 to collect signatures, and election officials have until April 29 to verify them. If more than 1,497,000 are valid, the effort will qualify.
When asked about the recall, Newsom has repeatedly objected, declaring his focus is on the work before him as governor. However, in his State of the State speech Tuesday night, he appeared to address the recall effort, stating, “So to the California critics, who are promoting partisan power grabs and outdated prejudices and rejecting everything that makes California great, we say this: We will not be distracted from getting shots in arms and our economy booming again.”
The governor made additional remarks on Friday that seemingly addressed the recall. In an interview with KQED news radio station, Newsom painted the effort as a challenge to his administration's progressive policies and not a reaction to his leadership during the pandemic that has claimed over 55,000 lives in California, proclaiming, “It’s about immigration. It’s about our health care policies. It’s about our criminal justice reform. It’s about the diversity of the state. It’s about our clean air, clean water programs, meeting our environmental strategies.”
As the RecallGavin2020 movement appears to be on a steady track to becoming a reality, Newsom's approval rating among his constituents is less specific. A new Emerson College poll recorded the following:
- Despite a majority (57%) of Californians thinking the state is headed in the right direction, Governor Gavin Newsom is struggling to keep his job approval above water at 42% approval and 40% disapproval, while 18% are unsure or have no opinion.
- President Joe Biden has a favorable job approval in California, at 54% approval and 31% disapproval.
- When asked about the effort to recall Governor Newsom, 42% of California voters said they would vote to keep Newsom, 38% would vote to recall, and 14% were undecided. Six percent (6%) said they would not vote in a recall.
Emerson College Director of Polling, Spencer Kimball, remarked that if Newsom withstands the recall, he will still face significant obstacles in 2022. 58% of voters are ready for a new governor, with 42% indicating they would vote for him again. Kimball explained that "part of the issue for Governor Newsom is his management of the Covid-19 pandemic, where voters are split in their approval, at 45% approval and 44% disapproval. However, his falling popularity doesn't appear to be caused by the mask mandate, as a majority (51%) of Californians think it is the right measure, compared to 23% who think it doesn't go far enough and 26% who said it goes too far."
Newsom was showered with praise last spring for his aggressive approach to the coronavirus when he issued the country's first statewide stay-at-home order. But it's been a year since the governor shut down the state, with businesses shuttered, jobs lost, and schools closed. Californians have suffered terribly, and many of the hardest hit are children. Still, Newsom has been traveling the state holding events to spotlight COVID-19 vaccinations, maintaining he's navigating the state out of the grip of the virus, while some supporters have begun organizing online news conferences trying to shift public support his way.
Nevertheless, according to Michael Blood of the AP, approval ratings in the low-40s typically indicate severe uncertainty for an incumbent. Blood noted that under CA rules, "Newsom alone is allowed to raise money in unlimited amounts, while other candidates must adhere to contribution limits. It's likely he will soon receive a flood of cash from his familiar Democratic constituency, including powerful public worker unions that spent millions of dollars helping install him in office in 2018."
By presenting the recall effort as motivated by Republicans and patriotic Trump supporters, Newsom and his team hope to keep independents and Democrats who may be disappointed in the governor on their side. Reacting to Newsom's campaign, the California Republican Party focused on several critical issues beyond the pandemic, tweeting at Newsom:
“The highest poverty rate in the nation, the largest number of homeless, some of the highest gas prices, unemployment checks going to death row inmates, and up to $31 billion in unemployment fraud. The recall is gaining momentum because of your failed leadership.”