Thursday, February 25, 2021

Effort to Recall Gavin Newsom Taps Into Pandemic Anger

I've haven't been keeping track of the recall signature drive, but it's definitely gaining steam. 

And I have no idea if Newsom's in threat of removal by the voters, although his public approval ratings have been tanking. See, "Newsom approval plummeting with a third of voters support recall amid COVID-19 criticism, poll finds."

But now we've got the New York Times weighing in, so California's pandemic politics, and the crashed economy in our once-"Golden State," has become major national news. 

See, "A Recall for Newsom in California? Talk Grows as Governors Come Under Attack." Also, un-gated article here:  

SACRAMENTO — Long before Orrin Heatlie filed papers to recall Gavin Newsom, he knew the odds were against unseating the suave ex-mayor of San Francisco who ascended to become California’s governor.

“Democrats have a supermajority here — it’s one-party rule,” said Mr. Heatlie, a Republican and retired Yolo County sheriff’s sergeant. Voters had elected Mr. Newsom in 2018 by a record 24-point margin. As recently as April, 70 percent still approved of his performance. Plus, just to trigger a recall election, Mr. Heatlie’s petition would require about 1.5 million valid voter signatures.

Lately, however, Mr. Heatlie has been feeling lucky.

California has been upended by the coronavirus. Most of the state is waiting — impatiently — for vaccinations. Schools in big cities have yet to reopen their classrooms. Prison inmates and international fraud rings may have looted as much as $30 billion from the state’s pandemic unemployment insurance program.

And then there was that dinner at the French Laundry restaurant that the governor attended, barefaced, after telling Californians to stay in and wear masks to avoid spreading the virus.

“This is an easy sell,” reported Mr. Heatlie last week, speaking by phone from rural San Joaquin County, where he was delivering petitions that he said pushed his haul over the 1.7 million-signature mark with three weeks to go before the deadline.

“I like to say we have nobody to thank but him,” he said, “and he has nobody to blame but himself.”

A year into the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Newsom is not the only governor who has hit a political rough patch. Across the country, pandemic-weary Americans are taking their rage and grief out on chief executives.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine, whose voter approval soared at the start of the pandemic, has been assailed for his strict enforcement of health precautions. Gov. Greg Abbott was under fire for runaway infection rates in Texas border cities even before winter storms collapsed the power grid. Crashes of the vaccine appointment system in Massachusetts have eaten away at the once unassailable popularity of Gov. Charlie Baker. “For the first time, he has a true political opponent — and it’s Covid-19,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston political strategist.

And in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s national image as a leader during the pandemic has suffered amid questions around New York’s incomplete count of coronavirus-related deaths of nursing home residents.

Dane Strother, a Democratic media consultant in California whose clients include governors and mayors across the country, said governors “are in an untenable position.” “The Trump administration gave them no guidance for the most part, but then threw them the responsibility,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say there’s not a governor in this country right now whose approval ratings are not taking a dip.”

Nor will the struggle fade soon: In the next two years, 38 states will hold regular elections for governor. Even if California’s recall attempt fails, Mr. Newsom is up for re-election next year.

As California works the kinks out of its vaccine rollout and starts to reopen classrooms, it is tough to determine whether Mr. Heatlie’s effort will pan out. A recent poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, showed Mr. Newsom’s approval rates plunging, but only to 46 percent.

For the recall to move forward, proponents must gather 1,495,809 valid signatures from registered voters by March 17 — enough to equal 12 percent of the votes cast in the most recent election for governor. Counties must then verify them by April 29.

About 1.1 million signatures have been filed so far, and of the nearly 800,000 that have been vetted, nearly 670,000 have been deemed valid. If the measure qualifies, the campaign figures that the election would be in August or September; independent political analysts say November or December...

Actually, I think California is the worst state, right up there with New York. And when even NYT is starting to drill down to the horrendous governance and hypocrisy here and elsewhere, especially in Democrat-run states, it's actually pretty significant.

So, while it's still early, if this recall qualifies, and there's an election later this year, I'm going to be giddy --- at least for the intense heat that Newsom's going face. 

Until then, I'll be keeping my eyes open and I'll be posting updates. It's gonna be good!