California Gov. Gavin Newsom readies for recall election fueled by backlash to pandemic restrictions

California Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t new to criticism or attempts to remove him from office. Republicans have crafted recall efforts five times in the two years he’s led the state. 

But after being hailed as one of the nation’s most formidable leaders in the fight against COVID-19, the sixth attempt to recall Newsom looks like it will almost certainly lead to a historic recall election — something Newsom, himself, acknowledges. 

“Well, the reality is it looks like it’s going on the ballot, and so we’re ready to go,” Newsom said of the recall effort at a news conference Tuesday. “We will fight it. We will defeat it.”

The well-funded effort is promoted by determined Republicans — including big names like Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. It’s fueled in part by backlash to Newsom’s strict coronavirus measures that angered some Californians and has gained momentum thanks to a lengthened recall process due to the pandemic.

Those elements could create a perfect storm posing dire consequences for the high-profile Democrat who had been viewed as a potential presidential contender.

A monthlong review will begin Wednesday to check what organizers say is more than 2 million signatures backing the effort. Only about 1.5 million are needed to trigger a recall election. 

“It’s really a rare experience for governors to face recall elections,” said Ken Miller, a state and local government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California. “Normally, you would think in California that Gavin Newsom shouldn’t have to worry about facing the voters.” 

But, Miller said,that isn’t the case this time in the large state, known nationally as being deep blue but which has regions of strong conservative voters. Newsom could see an abrupt end to his political ambitions due to a number of factors, including the peculiar rules in a recall race. 

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