In the middle of his first term, the governor of the Democratic Party of the most populous state in the country is trying to control a pandemic that has crippled the southern half of California since Thanksgiving. The pandemic gave Republicans, long removed in this highly democratic country, a rare opportunity to hurt him. And Newsom seeks to keep the country – and its own political future – intact.
“People are really angry,” said Ted Costa, an anti-tax crusader who was the original proponent of Davis’ recall. Last week, he signed documents to recall Newsom in the Home Depot car park in Thousand Oaks. “Things can get hot quickly, and I don̵
For Newsom, an ambitious Democrat with a national profile, the extent of the problem is unclear. The last Republican to win California’s gubernatorial election was Arnold Schwarzenegger, nearly 15 years ago. When Newsom won the governorship in 2018, it held the state by nearly 24 percentage points. His public approval rating last year was 60 percent.
Still, the pandemic has worsened in recent weeks. And the frame of reference through which Californians view Newsom is about to change dramatically when Joe Biden replaces Donald Trump in the White House. He will no longer take advantage of the reliable film in Washington, and the bar for public approval for Newsom – and for governors of Democrats across the country – will probably be raised.
“In the last few years during Newsom’s rule, people have said that the nation is going in the wrong direction and the state is going in the right direction compared to the nation,” said Mark Baldassare, a poll veteran and president of the California Institute of Public Policy. . Now, without a Republican president to sue Newsom, he said, “It certainly changes that point of contrast.”
Newsom met with the growing virus and its economic consequences with a series of proposals designed to help the most vulnerable Californians and bring students back to the classroom. Last month, he proposed a $ 2 billion effort to open elementary schools for the state’s youngest students, with additional protective equipment and testing. Earlier last week, Newsom proposed providing low-income government workers with a $ 600 quick money grant. And as a boon to his political fortune, the state budget, despite dire forecasts, is so healthy that Newsom released a budget proposal on Friday calling for record spending while adding billions of dollars to the state’s reserve accounts.
But good news is a rarity in California, and Newsom is not without its flaws. He came in as a drunk after attending a dinner for a senior political adviser at the luxury restaurant The French Laundry – a responsibility not only because Newsom enjoyed his evening, as it discouraged Californians from gathering for the holidays, but because the place was so chic. The Californians, who might otherwise have stopped making fun of him for this episode weeks ago, had only more cause for disappointment amid deteriorating pandemic conditions.
“In the city of Los Angeles and in our county, Covid-19 is already everywhere and infecting more people than ever,” Mayor Eric Garcetti told a grim news conference Thursday night.
Garsetti, a Democrat who is under public pressure similar to the one facing Newsom, has blamed the federal government, not the state, for slowing the spread of vaccines. But News is facing criticism from others for spreading the Covid-19 vaccine too slowly, something the federal government has left to the states.
“I don’t think Californians can understand why we have hundreds of thousands of doses sitting there and they’re not being administered,” said Gary South, a Democratic strategist who advised Newsom’s 2010 governorship campaign and was a senior adviser to Davis. . “California has been through hell for almost 10 months and now there is potentially light at the end of the tunnel with these vaccines – but it does no good to anyone if it is not given.”
“You have to get these vaccinations in people’s hands,” he said.
Like other Democrats, Newsom hurt the Trump administration’s slow release of the vaccine by joining Democratic governors in seven other states last week, calling on federal health officials to release more doses. And in the new administration in Washington, Newsom will have some help. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who will be sworn in as vice president Kamala Harris this month, said in an interview that he plans to make “Kovid, Kovid, Kovid” his top priority – and will work immediately to get Newsom from whatever. and help to be needed.
At the federal level, Padilla said, “We know the vaccines are approved, but we’re still not close to where we need to be in terms of production.”
For Newsom’s political purposes – the sooner the better. For years, Republicans’ reports on taxes, regulations, and social affairs have failed governor policy here, reflecting the predominantly Democratic electorate in California. But the coronavirus has become a good idea for Newsom critics, providing an opening for anti-Newsom broad parties that can resonate outside the Republican Party base.
“In the midst of this pandemic, with so many people injured and now out of work … we have 500,000 Californians who can’t get an unemployment check,” said former San Diego Mayor Kevin Folconer, who this week launched a governor study commission. “How frustrated are parents when they see that most private schools are working and functioning, but we have not been able to open our public schools safely?” This is unacceptable. “
He and other Republicans dismissed Newsom as targeting the pandemic, a story aided by an increase in cases despite restrictions. “Look, all we heard – all year long – from Gavin Newsom was that once we got the vaccine, all the problems would be solved, the blockages would be over, and we could get back to normal life here in California,” Jennifer Kearns said. , a conservative talk show host and former spokesman for the state Republican Party. “And that’s not the case.”
Joe Rodota, a former Republican strategist who left the party under Trump’s influence and was once deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Pete Wilson, said, “It’s all falling apart.”
Against this background, the impetus for the seizure of Newsom is gaining momentum. Although seizure efforts are routinely used against governors and rarely qualify for a vote, supporters of the anti-Nussum efforts said Tuesday they have exceeded 1 million signatures – about two-thirds of the number they need to call for more elections. later this year, in part by requesting signatures in the mail from Republicans and independent voters. The effort recently raised $ 500,000 from a donor from Orange County who objected to Newsom’s orders to restrict religious gatherings because of the coronavirus.
Dave Gilliard, the Republican strategist who helped organize Davis’ recall in 2003 and advised Newsom’s seizure efforts, set the odds of getting around 80 to 85 percent of the vote.
“It has really taken off in the last few months,” he said, attributing the increase to what he called the “French laundry jump.”
Newsom advisers drew attention to the recall efforts, conducted interviews and described the recall supporters as “Trump-supporting extremists.” Dan Newman, Newsom’s chief political adviser, said the “seizure efforts were fueled primarily by the same hatred, misinformation and disrespect for democracy that led domestic terrorists to storm the Capitol.”
Speaking to Falconer and John Cox, the Republican defeated by Newsom in 2018, Newman said: “Trump’s California supporters like Kevin Faulkner and John Cox are marching on foot with the president, blindly following his example, refusing to accept and respect the will of voters. “
But Newsom advisers do not advertise or hold press conferences, and are reluctant to provide information about an initiative that they believe is unlikely to qualify without a significant infusion of additional money. Proponents of the recall are expected to collect about 1.5 million signatures by March; providing enough valid signatures means that they will probably have to collect much more than that number.
And if the recall initiative qualifies for a vote, actually calling Newsom will be a much higher task. Republicans make up less than a quarter of California’s electorate. And during recall elections, which will come only months after the signatures are submitted, the mood of voters – potentially vaccinated until then – could improve dramatically.
For now, Davis said he expects Newsom to focus heavily on promoting the vaccine, which he says should “give people the feeling that this pandemic will eventually end.” And overall, given the challenges of the pandemic, Davis said Newsom had “done a remarkable job.”
“There’s a reason his public approval ratings are still in the mid-1950s,” Davis said. “It is completely transparent. He explains why he will do something. He tells you if it has been achieved and if not, why not. And I think he has an attractive quality that voters like. “