President Joe Biden formally came out against the recall movement of Governor Gavin Newsom this week, citing his commitment to numerous policies in California, including his control of COVID-19.
President Biden’s support for Newsom came in the form of a tweet by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, which was released only hours after she was asked about the recall during a White House briefing.
“In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with Gavin Newsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, [President Biden] clearly opposes any effort to recall Gavin Newsom,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a tweet.
In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 9, 2021
Although Biden’s support of Newsom had been little in doubt due to their similar stances on numerous issues and both Newsom’s and Biden’s close working relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden’s announcement of support is largely thought to be in response to the growing campaign to recall Governor Newsom.
Since November, Newsom has faced numerous controversies, such as breaking and lying about state guidelines that he himself touted to attend a dinner, not acting promptly on a $31 Billion unemployment fraud incident, unveiling a controversial school reopening program, and not handling the COVID-19 crisis in California competently on either a health or economic level. This has caused his popularity to plummet in the Golden state, going from 64% to 45% in favor his Governorship in four months.
The recall movement, which started late last year, has seen a flood of new signatures in recent months, going from 1.3 million to 1.4 million in a week in late January. 1.495 million signatures, or 12% of the Gubernatorial vote for Newsom in 2018, are ultimately needed for a recall election to trigger. With the Secretary of State’s office reporting that 84% of the signatures being valid so far, and the March 10th signature deadline still more than a month away to give ample time to collect extra signatures, supporters and opponents alike have come to the conclusion of it’s inevitability of succeeding.
According to Anne Dunsmore, the campaign manager for one of the organizations in support of the recall, Rescue California, Biden taking a stance on the recall movement now only shows just how poor a position that Newsom himself is in now.
“They’re calling in the big guns,” said Dunsmore on Tuesday. “That says a lot. It means game on.”
“From the very beginning, Newsom tried to make it political. These are practical problems people are having. It’s not about Biden versus Trump.”
Biden and the Newsom recall
Other experts also noted that Biden’s announcement may have also been an attempt at rallying Democrats in California to not sign the recall petition.
“There’s a significant number on non-Republicans adding their signatures,” former lobbyist Harry Schultz, who had helped lobby during the 2003 Gray Davis recall, told the Globe.” 10% of the signatures have been Democrats, with Independents signing even more than that.”
“And remember, this is the last thing Newsom wants right now. But he’s made Californians angry, especially in the last six months. Many feel that he doesn’t care and does what he wants. And now we see Biden defending him. That’s a last resort measure to try and stop something, like when a lot of prominent Democrats tried to stop the Davis recall in 2003. But it’s a sign, especially to Newsom who has been blowing the recall question off the last several weeks. This is real, and a significant number of Californians don’t like him. Many would rather have Governor Ted Danson at this point than him.”
“Biden coming in brings that point home to Newsom now, even after a week of Democrats in California trying to stop this. For months they didn’t think it was happening after four other failed attempts before, but Biden saying that. We’re serious now.”
On Tuesday, Governor Newsom gave another public dismissal of the recall at a press conference outside of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, explaining that he was not focusing on it at this time.
“I’m not focusing on that at all,” said Newsom. “I’m focusing on increasing the administration of vaccines, getting these vaccines out of the freezers and refrigerators and into people’s arms.”
As of Tuesday, the recall petition around 1.5 million signatures, 300,000 short of the 1.8 million wanted for validation safety. Should enough signatures be collected in time, final validation is expected by the end of April.