On Thursday, the campaign to recall Governor Gavin Newsom eclipsed 1.4 million signatures, setting a new weekly record of more than 100,000 signatures gathered.
Since being sworn in in 2019, Governor Newsom has faced several recall attempts. Until late 2020, none of them had come close to the 1.495 million voter signature threshold. But the recall petition started late last year proved to be different. Growing voter discontent over the Governor’s response to COVID-19 fueled many early signatures, but was still so low that Newsom supporters waved it off as another attempt that would stall out. But from November until the present, the Governor found himself embroiled in several controversies and gaffes.
A botched vaccine rollout and a controversial school reopening plan brought in much voter outrage from Republicans and Democrats alike, together with the $31 billion EDD fraud, as well as fallout from Newsom’s statewide lockdown driving more and more anger from voters. Personal lapses, particularly with regard to COVID-19 regulations, have brought Gov. Newsom national and even international scorn. Most notably, he was found to have lied about attending a non-social distanced and non-mask party at an elite restaurant in November, despite him chastising Californians only days before for not following state guidelines.
A recent UC Berkeley survey found that only 45% of voters approve of Newsom, a sharp drop from September where 64% of voters approved of him. In the same survey, over a third of all voters also noted that they would vote for his removal from office, almost doubling the amount in favor in only a few short months.
The growing outrage in recent weeks helped spike the number of new voters signing the recall petition, including the almost unheard figure of over 100,000 signatures gathered in the past week.
“This past week more than 100,000 registered voters in California have signed Gavin Newsom’s Pink Slip,” explained Orrin Heatlie, Chairman of The California Patriot Coalition/Recall Gavin 2020 Committee.
Coalition Senior Advisor and spokesman Randy Economy added, “We are in the red zone at the 10 yard line.”
While Republicans and others opposing Newsom and his job performance have been ecstatic over the now extremely likely recall possibility, Democrats and Newsom supporters have been dumbfounded at the success of the recall movement.
“Democrats, for the longest time, just figured that this one would peter out like all the others,” former lobbyist Harry Schultz, who had helped lobby during the 2003 Gray Davis recall, told the Globe. “They were really dismissive of it until only a few weeks ago. I mean, in January there were only at 1 million signatures. They got 400,000 in less than a month.
If enough signatures are collected, the California Governor’s race will be the biggest election in 2021
“They’ve been saying for months that this is just the work by, in their words, right-wing nut jobs. But they found out that not only Conservatives were signing this, but also moderate Republicans, independents, and perhaps most gut-punching, fellow Democrats. I’ve talked with a few signature gatherers and many Democrats who have signed think that he’s a hypocrite and can’t name a single thing he has done for California. Now some also think he’s too moderate and want someone more on the left in the recall, but that’s a bridge to be crossed later. The point is that what was considered impossible is quickly turning into 2003 all over again.”
“Only in the past week did Democrats really mobilize and try to stall this beyond dismissing it, but it’s too little too late. The campaign still wants 400,000 more signatures to get the required number and a few hundred thousand as a buffer. Around 84% of signatures have been valid so far, so they need a good number of reserve signatures to really get it through. And they’re on pace for that now.”
“We also have big names entering the race. [Former San Diego Mayor Kevin] Faulconer entered this week, with many more due to declare soon. Now, it probably won’t be like the circus of 2003 where an action movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was elected with many other celebrities entering the race at different points, but it will still be big news. Only the New Jersey and West Virginia gubernatorial races are set for this year, so if California comes in, it will be the main election story of 2021… one of recall at that, with prominent Republicans. And since it’s California, probably some celebrities coming in again. Newsom likes the camera, but he won’t like it with the entire nation and possibly world looking on and saying how enough Californians don’t like him that they wanted him removed earlier. Look at what that attention did to Davis in 2003. Even Saturday Night Live was against him.”
“And supporters win no matter what at this point. As I’ve said before, Newsom’s political future is all but over should enough signatures get collected. Even if he survives the recall, he will be damaged goods in 2022. And even if he’s re-elected, his shot for the presidency is over, because someone who has been in a recall election just never moves higher than the office it happened in. At the very least they can say they stopped his presidential ambitions. From a political standpoint, this is his “Chappaquiddick.” No matter what he does now, this will follow him around for life.”
Democratic advisors have also continued to urge the Governor to start a recall committee, an action yet to be implemented by Newsom.
“I do think at some point he needs to open a recall committee, start taking this seriously, and start going to war,” Democratic consultant Andrew Acosta said on Wednesday.
Recall supporters have until March 10th to collect 1.495 million valid signatures to trigger a special recall election later this year.