The newest recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom has picked up enough traction that Governor Newsom’s office is reportedly growing increasingly worried over the recall attempt succeeding.
Since September, Governor Newsom’s popularity has fallen significantly. In October, his approval rating was only 64%, with some analysts saying this week that it may now only be around 50%. Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent decision to lock down the state until December 21st, stymying businesses statewide, has been a large factor in his growing unpopularity, as has his refusal to open up key California industries such as theme parks.
The subsequent increase in voters signing his recall petition, has been caused primarily by two events. One was the French Laundry affair, where Governor Newsom went to a party at the Napa County French Laundry Restaurant and ignored several state health guidelines while there, despite months of telling all Californians to adhere to them. The other was the exposé EDD prison and jail fraud case where at least $2 billion in state funds had been fraudulently taken from EDD unemployment benefit debit cards since March. While blame has been on Bank of America for not catching the fraud sooner, heat has also been put on the EDD and the Governor for being laissez-faire about the program and not putting in enough oversight to make sure mass fraud didn’t happen.
To date, Recall Gavin has collected over 800,000 signatures in California. Backers of the petition will need at least 1,495,709 signatures, 12% of the total Gubernatorial vote in 2018, to bring the matter to voters, although they have said that they will go for 2 million to play it safe as many signatures may be discounted for various reasons such as signing more than once, not being registered to vote, being from out of state, and other discrepancies.
Many political analysts have doubt that enough signatures can be accumulated in time.
“Recalls are supposed to be drastic last resorts, but here they are trying for the 6th time in less than two years,” explained former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe. “Logistically it doesn’t seem like they’ll have enough to get over the finish line. Very few recalls do.”
However, supporters have pointed out that there have been many recent recalls in American history, including the Scott Walker recall in Wisconsin in 2012 and the successful recall of Governor Gray Davis in California in 2003.
“Finding a Trump voter in this state who would be unwilling to sign a recall petition would be a tough job,” Capitol Campaigns founder Ann Hyde said last month. “The Davis recall in 2003 had several independent committees working to gather petitions, and that result is history. Will history repeat itself?”
Recall petition may benefit from growing number of disaffected voters
Other experts pointed out numerous opportunities to gather signatures from disaffected voters coming up.
“Recall Gavin 2020 is in a good spot right now to gather votes,” James, a voting organizer in the Los Angeles area who helped work on both the Trump and Obama campaigns, said in a Globe interview. “I’ve worked with both the Republicans and the Democrats, so I know where to look for disaffected voters.”
“The core right now are unhappy Trump voters. They’re probably losing him as president, and then Newsom had a train wreck of problems in the last month. So they got them. It would be weird if they didn’t.”
“But who they should be focused on are all the pissed off people right now. They should be going to restaurant owners, restaurant workers, and even small business owners in general. They’re feeling the pinch caused by Newsom, and they are way more likely to sign the petition. I’ve even heard from some union workers who have been furloughed that they’re against Newsom. Unions helped carry Newsom in 2018. If he’s making them mad, then maybe start looking at some of the more hard-hit unions. Theme park workers, especially those that helped the GOP carry a few Orange County districts this year by switching their usual vote, would be a good start.
“And a big thing to watch is who Newsom picks for Senator. It’s between a Latino candidate and a black candidate right now. Whoever doesn’t get it should be focused for signatures because they’ll be mad about not being represented and that Newsom didn’t choose someone to represent them. That would be a smart move.
“And then of course you have the average Californian just angry about all of this. So if they are shown a better GOP plan, or see point by point how Newsom hurt them personally this year or didn’t care, that can push people to sign.
“This petition going on right now has the best chance yet. People were angry at Gray Davis 17 years ago and booted him out. It can happen again.”
Newsom, unlike past recall attempts, has even responded to the Recall Gavin effort, further cementing that this effort has more traction than previous efforts.
“WARNING: THIS UNWARRANTED RECALL EFFORT WILL COST CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS 81 MILLION DOLLARS! IT IS BEING PUSHED BY POLITICAL EXTREMISTS SUPPORTING PRESIDENT TRUMP’S HATEFUL ATTACKS ON CALIFORNIA,” noted Newsom recently in a warning. “A handful of partisan activists supporting President Trump and his dangerous agenda to divide America are trying to overturn the definitive will of California voters and bring Washington’s broken government to California with this recall effort. The last thing California needs is another wasteful special election, supported by those who demonize California’s people and attack California’s values.”
However analysts, including those who don’t give the petition that big of a chance, have pointed out that his response was flawed.
“He wrote the first paragraph in all caps,” added James. “You know the last Governor to give a rebuttal against a recall beginning in all caps like that? Gray Davis.
To date, RecallGavin2020 is over halfway to its legal goal of 1.495 million signatures and close to halfway of its insured goal of 2 million. The Recall Gavin 2020 petition can be found here.