Californians are frustrated, tired and sick. And in the midst of the unfolding catastrophe, Gov. Gavin Newsom — confronting a burgeoning recall effort, on top of a year of wildfires and civil unrest — is under siege.
Halfway through his first term, the Democratic governor is scrambling to control a pandemic that has crippled the southern half of California since Thanksgiving. The pandemic has given Republicans, long sidelined in the state, a rare opportunity to wound him. And Newsom is laboring to keep California — and his own political future — intact.
“People are really pissed off,” said Ted Costa, the anti-tax crusader who was the original proponent of the Davis recall. He signed Newsom recall papers last week in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Thousand Oaks. “Things can get hot quick, and I don’t know if Newsom realizes what happens when a groundswell hits.”
Against that backdrop, the push to recall Newsom has been gaining steam. Though recall efforts are mounted routinely against governors and rarely qualify for the ballot, proponents of the anti-Newsom effort said Tuesday that they had surpassed 1 million signatures — about two-thirds of the number they need to force an election later this year — in part by soliciting signatures by mail from Republicans and independent voters.
Dave Gilliard, the Republican strategist who helped orchestrate Davis’ recall in 2003 and is advising the Newsom recall effort, put the odds of qualifying for the ballot at about 80 to 85 percent.
“It’s really taken off in the last couple of months,” he said.