Written by Skylar Shipp (News Writer)
The effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom has become more prevalent as the pandemic drags on, and has managed to garner 1,871,573 verified signatures according to the recall website. This number of signatures meets the requirements necessary to trigger the recall, meaning that Newsom will be the second governor to be recalled in California after Governor Gray Davis in 2003.
The movement cites many issues for the recall, but their surge in popularity of the movement has mostly been due to prolonged COVID-19 restrictions that are stricter than most other states. The official list of reasons contained a few notable ones, at the top of the list is Newsom’s participation in indoor dining without masks, going against state and county guidelines. Unsurprisingly, they also cite, “On-Going Shutdowns, Loss of Small Businesses, Loss of Jobs” as a reason for the recall, these seem to be legitimate complaints shared by many Californians. According to a Berkeley Institute of Government Studies Poll from February, 43% of those surveyed felt that Newsom and other state officials had poorly handled the pandemic, 23% of voters said they had done a fair job, and 31% said they had done a good or excellent job. However, as the list goes, criticisms on policies unrelated to COVID-19 become more commonplace, such as 2nd amendment infringement, high taxes, immigration, and much more. Notably, there are no sources or evidence listed for any of these points, and when I reached out to them for comment they did not respond
Another peculiar thing is that the top funders page is not accessible on the website. When I reached out to the recall movement with questions about this, as well as a few of the reasons listed, they never responded. Among the reasons listed was the mask mandate, which was interesting to see listed here since many Republican governors have implemented mask mandates and masks have been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
When you get past the decent website and homepage, any integrity of this movement disappears quickly. As I said earlier, I was unable to actually see the top funders page. Also, just looking through the official recall reasons list, I saw points such as, “Funding Illegal Alien owned businesses in the amount of $50 Million because CA received federal funding for the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) Virus [Covid-19/Corona]”, which was changed in a later version of the document after I emailed with questions. They also reported their own COVID-19 rates in the documents, “Covid-19 Counts Distorted, 541,339 CONFIRMED CASES TOTAL; 10,021 Dead = .0185 of Those Who Test Positive Die; This is .0002 of the Entire State’s Population .02% 8/7/20” and never responded when I asked them for the source of these numbers. There are no sources listed for any of these points, which is surprising. Also, a majority of the reasons are fairly common Republican talking points which have likely been studied, so this lack of sources is even more odd.
Many Californian’s share negative views of Newsom with 46% approving and 48% disapproving of his job performance as of late January 2021. With such low ratings, it may be surprising to hear that, according to the Berkeley IGS poll only 36% of California voters support the recall, while 45% oppose, and 19% remain undecided. This shows that it is unlikely that Newsom even comes close to losing the recall election. This is of course assuming that his only challengers are Republicans. With the current approval ratings of the recall, and the mostly Republican talking points in the recall reasons, it’s not surprising that most of the state doesn’t approve of the recall. However, there is a chance that a Democratic challenger could step up to challenge Newsom, likely campaigning on looser restrictions and full school reopenings, an issue that Newsom has been less decisive about than many other governors. A Democratic challenger would surely complicate things since Newsom is becoming a somewhat unpopular figure, and this unpopularity is likely to increase if the pandemic continues. It seems to be a far more likely outcome that Newsom would be ousted by another Democrat than a Republican, so the recall movement could soon become far more complicated. In an interview with ABC Newsom said, “Am I worried about it? Of course I’m worried about it. 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.”