California’s a hot bed of leftism. The infected state has been rolling downhill for years now. But suddenly, a glimmer of hope beams from the west coast, and it starts with a special election.
The recall petition was introduced in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in California. The reasons stated on the recall petition don’t actually have anything to do with Newsom’s handling of coronavirus.
The petitioners’ grievances include:
“Laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals, in our country illegally, over that of our own citizens. People in this state suffer the highest taxes in the nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result. He has imposed sanctuary state status and fails to enforce immigration laws. He unilaterally over-ruled the will of the people regarding the death penalty. Further, he seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following; removing the protections of Proposition 13, rationing our water use, increasing taxes and restricting parental rights.”
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There’s a lot to unpack there, from immigration to homelessness to property taxes. But things really picked up steam after the coronavirus pandemic.
Some critics say Newsom was too slow to reopen industries after the state crushed the curve in the spring of 2020. On the other side of the spectrum, some say Newsom wasn’t strict enough with shutdown measures, which lacked enforcement or consequences for rulebreakers.
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The lightning rod came in November 2020 when it was revealed that Newsom attended a birthday party at the Michelin-starred restaurant French Laundry. The gathering included people from several different households and took place in an enclosed area – the type of gathering Newsom had been telling Californians to avoid.
More than 1.6 million Californians signed the recall petition – well over the 1.495 million verified signatures needed to trigger a recall election.
Most Californians still see Newsom as wildly popular. But now, it appears Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to vote in the upcoming recall election. As such, the Golden State might turn red relatively soon.
According to The Guardian:
Newsom is fighting for his political life. The Democratic governor of a deep blue state could narrowly lose his seat to a fringe rightwing radio host – in large part due to inertia and apathy among voters.
Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one in California – but while the former are distracted and disengaged this year, the latter are riled up, political strategists and pollsters say. By voting at higher rates, Republicans could capture the governor’s seat for the first time in a decade.
Only 36% of all registered voters want to oust Newsom, but that number rises to 47% when polling likely voters, according to a poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. And a recent CBS News poll found that 72% of Republican voters were “very motivated” to participate in the recall, while just 61% of Democrats felt the same.
“Turnout is likely to be far higher among Republicans than Democrats and ‘no party preference’ voters. And, since nearly all Republicans favor Newsom’s ouster, a larger proportion of likely voters are voting yes,” said Mark DiCamillo, the poll’s director.
Newsom spent the past few months characterizing the recall effort as a fringe, Republican “distraction” and kicked off his “Vote No” recall campaign in earnest just one month before the 14 September deadline to return ballots. Now he and the Democratic party are scrambling to mobilize voters. “People, we implore you: please vote,” he pleaded at a recent campaign event in Los Angeles.
“Newsom doesn’t have to worry about the Democratic base voting for the recall,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor who has advised Republican candidates. “He has to worry about them not voting at all.”
Admittedly, California’s recall system is a bit odd.
The dynamics of the race are in part due to California’s peculiar recall system. The ballot asks two questions. First, should the governor be recalled? And if so, who should be governor? If more than 50% vote yes on the first question, the candidate with the most votes on question two becomes governor. That means that if 49.9% of voters support Newsom’s staying in office, he could be replaced by a candidate earning far fewer votes, such as the Republican frontrunner and rightwing radio host Larry Elder, who leads the polls among replacement candidates with just 18% support.
“They’re hoping that Democrats are just not interested enough,” said James Lance Taylor, a political scientist at the University of San Francisco, of the crowded Republican field. “That not enough Democrats will return the ballots, allowing Elder to sneak in the back door and become governor of California.”
Democrats up and down the state are growing increasingly nervous about that possibility.
“I’m very concerned by the close poll numbers and very concerned with the fact that folks seem distracted or unaware,” said Sydney Kamlager, a Democratic state senator and vice-chair of the California legislative Black caucus who has been urging constituents to vote against the recall.
Amid a still-raging pandemic and devastating wildfires, many Californians are too preoccupied to pay attention, said Christian Arana, a vice-president of the Latino Community Foundation. And that’s especially true for the Black and Latino voters who help propel Democrats to power year after year. Polls suggest that white, conservative voters will dominate the recall, while voters of color stay home.
“Latino communities are still being affected by this virus, especially with a Delta variant going on. We’ve continued to see deaths within our community,” Arana said. “This recall election is just not on our mind, because we’re so busy dealing with the pains and traumas of this virus, and its economic consequences as well.”
Latinos account for 39% of the population, and about 28% of registered voters. While Latinos voted for Newsom by an almost 2-1 margin in 2018, the CBS News poll found that among likely voters, about half of Hispanic voters would vote to recall Newsom.
Now, Newsom is desperately running up and down the state, begging to state in the Governor’s Mansion.
So, how does Biden play into this? Well, as of today the President still plans to step up and campaign for the California governor.
In fact, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “I can confirm, the president does still plan to go and campaign for Governor Newsom in California … that is still certainly his plan.” While Psaki didn’t have any more details to offer, it’s comical that Democrats see any value to Biden campaigning at this point.
Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder (R) leads most opinion polls among potential replacements for Newsom, should he be recalled. On Tuesday, in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Elder dared Biden to campaign for Newsom:
I’ll believe it when I see Joe Biden come here. I’m not sure he’s going to. I understand he’s supposedly going to come here to campaign on behalf of Gavin Newsom. His popularity now is in the low forties — I think I saw 41%. Most Americans don’t even believe he’s home — that somebody else is in charge. So it’s going to backfire. But let him bring it in. Let him have him come in, and try to defend Gavin Newsom’s record on crime, and on homelessness, and on the outrageous cost of living, and on the way he ignored science and shut down the state to the point where a third of small businesses are gone forever.
Let Joe Biden make that case for him. I want him to come here. Let him do it. And out of all the major political figures in America, Gavin Newsom’s one of the few who’s praised the way he handled the Afghan crisis. And it has been a disaster after a disaster, one of the worst foreign policy mistakes America has ever made. So if Joe Biden wants to come here and lend his presence to California, I welcome that opportunity. But I don’t believe he’s going to do it.
Rumors say Kamala Harris also plans to campaign for the Governor. Isn’t it hilarious when Democrats beat themselves? I wouldn’t want Biden or Harris to endorse me for Homecoming Queen, much less an actual political post. But there’s an upside to all this. If Biden campaigns for Newsom, and they lose, maybe California can be saved after all.
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