California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) conceded Tuesday that a petition to recall him will likely qualify for the ballot, thereby triggering a recall election against him.
“This one appears to have the requisite signatures,” the Golden State governor said during an appearance on ABC’s “The View” Tuesday morning, also saying that it’s the sixth recall effort against him. For months, he dodged questions about the recall drive.
Recall proponents announced last week that they had reached their goal of 2 million petition signatures. While only 1.5 million valid signatures need to be submitted by Wednesday, proponents need to collect an excess of that to ensure the petition crosses the threshold in case many signatures are deemed invalid. After submission, the elections officials will have until April 29 to determine whether proponents have surpassed the official threshold. If 1.5 million signatures are validated, a special election will be held in the 60 to 80 days following official validation.
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“Am I worried about it? Of course I’m worried about it,” Newsom told “The View” co-hosts. “The nature of these things, the up or down question, the zero-sum nature of the question is challenging…so we’re taking it seriously.”
“I’ve only been in office 25 months, just 25 months there’s been six efforts to put a recall on the ballot. This one appears to have the requisite signatures. This started before the pandemic,” the governor said. “If you look at the list of grievances from the proponents of this campaign, it goes to our values, it’s less about me, it’s more about California and our values, Democratic Party values.”
“I have to do my job every single day, but I’m gonna fight this thing because I’m gonna fight for California values and the things I hold dear,” he added.
On Monday, Democrats started releasing pro-Newsom videos and a fundraising effort to support the governor, flaunting endorsements from big names on the political left—such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), and Cory Booker (N.J.). Stop the Republican Recall—funded chiefly by the California Democratic Party—has tried to link the recall drive to the GOP and the deadly January 6 Capitol riot. On top of that, the group has argued that ousting a sitting governor amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would be damaging to the state.
Newsom has also framed his defense campaign as maintaining California’s progressive ideals.
“Immigration, issues related to low-carbon green growth, our climate policies […] [policies] related to our our advancement to end the death penalty or increase the minimum wage or advance pay equity,” Newsom said on “The View.” “I say that quite literally, that’s what’s at stake in this election, in this recall.”
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Newsom on Tuesday also brought up far-right groups some supporters of the recall drive have ties with, saying that these “are folks that quite literally enthusiastically support QAnon conspiracies.”
If enough signatures are deemed valid, Californians would then vote on whether to recall the governor. If they say yes, they would then choose from a roster of candidates to succeed Newsom. An unlimited number of candidates can file to appear on the ballot, according to Politico. In 2003, during the recall of former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was the top pick and became governor.
Recall proponents argue that Newsom’s mishandling of the pandemic is the drive behind the recall. They cite to COVID-19 restrictions that have negatively impacted businesses and have forced many California students out of the classrooms for months.
“This recall is all about one thing: Gavin Newsom’s inability to meet the challenges of this pandemic and its consequences. Like a guy caught cheating on his … homework, he’s out to make it about something — anything — else,” Ron Nehring, a former California Republican Party chair who serves on the campaign of former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), tweeted on Monday.
Nehring also had some criticism of Newsom’s remarks on “The View.”
“This is desperation,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “58% of Californians want a new Governor. Newsom is desperate to make this referendum on his performance about anything but him.”
“Elvis and UFO’s next?” he added.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.