An effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom is picking up steam at the end of a year that began with some linking the Democrat to a potential White House run at some point.
According to KCBS-TV, recall organizers said they have collected more than 750,000 signatures to put a recall initiative on the ballot. That is about halfway toward the total of 1.5 million signatures needed for voters to decide Newsom’s fate in a special election.
Those seeking the additional signatures began collecting them in June and have until mid-March to finish canvassing. But the prospect of recalling Newsom and replacing him at the polls has gained significant momentum in recent months.
The last time the state’s voters chose to recall a governor was in 2003, when Democrat Gov. Gray Davis was replaced at the polls by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Under Newsom’s leadership, California was praised early in the coronavirus pandemic for instituting lockdowns and other measures to protect public health. But those lockdowns and other Newsom policies have proved very costly, and critics say the state is in freefall in many ways.
Major companies are leaving the Golden State in favor of a more business-friendly atmosphere. Oracle, Hewlett-Packard and Telsa founder Elon Musk have all announced moves to Texas this year. Other companies have also exited the state, and more presumably will follow.
State unemployment levels have skyrocketed even as illegal immigrants have been supported financially by the state both through public services, and Newsom floated the idea of direct payments to those in the country illegally earlier this year.
Meanwhile, KCAL-TV, citing the California Restaurant Association, reported one-third of the state’s restaurants are expected to either permanently close or to downsize by shutting down some locations due to the restrictions.
The state’s strict coronavirus lockdown orders have angered voters statewide. Citizens have been ordered to stay at home and away from houses of worship, prompting legal challenges and acts of defiance.
Making things worse, as small businesses and residents have struggled, high-profile California Democrats — including Newsom — have been spotted flouting the state’s rules.
Newsom reportedly ignored his own lockdown mandate last month in the Napa Valley to dine indoors at an expensive restaurant. KTTV-TV obtained photos from a large dinner the governor attended on Nov. 6 at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in the community of Yountville.
EXCLUSIVE: We’ve obtained photos of Governor Gavin Newsom at the Napa dinner party he’s in hot water over. The photos call into question just how outdoors the dinner was. A witness who took photos tells us his group was so loud, the sliding doors had to be closed. 10pm on @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/gtOVEwa864
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 18, 2020
California also has released thousands of potentially dangerous criminals from prisons across the state this year. Thanks to no cash bail policies, many alleged criminals have been free to reoffend and are back on the street quickly.
Amid the economic struggles, restrictions on individual liberties, the exodus of businesses, and wildfires attributed to forest mismanagement, many Californians are very unhappy, and the effort to recall Newsom is growing more serious.
KCBS spoke to one organizer of the recall who said many Californians are tired of the perceived “arrogance” of Newsom.
“It has resonated. It’s about the arrogance of power,” Randy Economy said.
Newsom’s closest advisers are concerned about the recall, Politico reported last week.
“As Newsom begins his third full year in office, the governor’s team is increasingly concerned with a long-shot conservative recall that could mushroom into a major threat in 2021 if it attracts significant financial support,” the outlet reported.
“Sources close to Newsom said the governor’s office has been disorganized over the past month and has not responded effectively to damaging headlines,” the report added. Those issues included the French Laundry outing, another round of lockdowns and the continued closures of some schools and businesses.
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