Organizers behind an attempt to recall Governor Gavin Newsom say last month’s dining misadventure with well-connected pals at Napa Valley’s exclusive French Laundry—even as the area was about to reenter California’s restrictive COVID-19 purple tier—has inspired a surge of Californians to join their efforts to oust the state’s head honcho.
People were already put off by the news that Newsom had attended a birthday soiree for advisor and lobbyist Jason Kinney at the pricey restaurant while health officials recommended stricter limitations on how the hoi polloi are allowed to gather. That displeasure turned to outrage when Newsom’s claim that it was an outdoor event was contradicted by photos showing him and at least ten friends chowing down in an indoor-outdoor space, nearly elbow-to-elbow.
“It has resonated. It’s about the power of arrogance,” Randy Economy, a senior adviser to the recall campaign, tells the Associated Press. According to Economy, the recall petition has gained several hundred thousand new signatures since Newsom’s epic misstep, which he apologized for, saying, “I want to apologize to you because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I’ve done my best to do that,” Newsom said. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.”
Organizers say they have already collected more than half of the 1,495,709 signatures required by the March 17 deadline to trigger a recall election. Unlike most petitions, which can be signed digitally, California law dictates that recall petitions be signed in actual ink on paper. Some sites are offering official recall documents to print out and return to the proper authorities, while others are organizing gatherings where likeminded voters can get together and sign Newsom’s marching orders in person.
While some see the momentum to boot Newsom from office before he can seek a second term in 2022 as his proper comeuppance, others are reminded of the circus that ensued when 135 candidates—including Diff’rent Strokes star Gary Coleman, Hustler publisher Larry Flint, and porn star Mary Carey—ran against Governor Gray Davis in the 2003 recall election that put Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in charge of the nation’s most populous state.
“A recall is never good, obviously,” former Davis chief political adviser Gary South tells AP. But, he adds, “the Republicans are in a far weaker position” than in 2003.
Still, South conceded, “He’s got a plate of Biblical plagues staring him in the face.”
By California law, county officials must submit recall signatures to the Secretary of State every 30 days. So far, the state has only accounted for 300,000 signatures, but Economy says another 800,000 are still working their way through the system.
If the Secretary of State determines that the necessary signatures have been collected, the recall must be declared within 14 days after the certificate of sufficiency for the recall is presented. From that point, the state has 88 to 125 days to hold the election, and candidates must submit their nomination papers and declaration of candidacy at least 59 days before the election. Proponents of Newsom’s early retirement are hoping for a recall vote in July or August.
Newsom already appears to be gearing up for battle, having recently hired Capitol insider Jim DeBoo as a senior adviser and appointing former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers as director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. But even if Newsom does survive a recall, a close race could damage Newsom’s aspirations of someday winning a national election, not to mention potentially tanking his odds in 2022.
Meanwhile, as Republican efforts to undo the Presidential election are being laughed out of courtrooms across the land, a couple of GOP curiosities from yesteryear are apparently seeking new relevance through the recall bid.
California's liberal elite send their kids to private school & dine out while lecturing YOU about danger of leaving your home. Governor Newsom's shutdown holds families hostage.
It's time to go @GavinNewsom, I'm backing the recall
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) December 11, 2020
Former Arkansas Governor and current talk show host Mike Huckabee recently tweeted his support for the move, while Newt Gingrich—last seen when he was forced to resign as Speaker of the House during the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer—is also jumping aboard the recall wagon.
“The ‘blue wave’ that the left-wing media spent months talking about disappeared in California,” Gingrich told Politico. “This is a direct result of Gavin Newsom’s destructive leadership that has crippled small businesses and sent billions of dollars of California COVID-19 jobless benefits to criminals across the nation.”
Newsom campaign spokesman Dan Newman notes that Huckabee and Gingrich—along with former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox—are also big fans of Donald Trump’s sad gambit to keep being President.
“Interesting timing at same moment the Supreme Court rejects Trump’s last ditch effort to overturn an election,” Newman said. “Trump, Gingrich, Faulconer, and Cox are embracing the same playbook, the same refusal to play by the rules.”