Newsom slams 'political power grabs' amid California recall effort

Newsom slams 'political power grabs' amid California recall effort
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California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia faces flash flood watches amid 'Bomb Cyclone' and 'Atmospheric River' Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Ivory poaching changes evolution of elephants California regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes MORE (D) during his state of the state address Tuesday defended his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic and took aim at critics amid a growing recall effort to oust him from office.

“I remain determined. And I just want you to know, we’re not going to change course just because of a few naysayers and doomsayers,” Newsom said. “So the California critics out there who are promoting partisan political power grabs with outdated prejudices and rejecting everything that makes California truly great, we say this, we will not be distracted from getting shots in arms and our economy booming again. This is a fight for California’s future.” 

The rebuke comes as the recall effort appears to be on track to garner enough signatures to force a special election that could put Newsom’s political future in jeopardy.

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Organizers of the effort said Sunday they have gathered 1.95 million signatures in support of the recall more than a week ahead of the March 17 deadline. Only 1.5 million signatures are needed, but hundreds of thousands more are expected to be submitted with the expectation that some will be invalidated. 

“That is more than enough to be able to have this initiative qualified for a special election later this year to let the people finally decide … what is gonna happen with the fate and the future of California Gov. Gavin Newsom,” Randy Economy, a political adviser working on the effort, said Sunday.

The recall effort was sparked by boiling frustration among Republicans over Newsom’s restrictions, mainly those against gatherings and business closures. Buzz around the recall grew even louder in November when the governor was spotted maskless at a posh restaurant celebrating the birthday of a political adviser in violation of his administration’s guidance. 

But it remains unclear if Newsom would be at serious risk of being ousted should a special election be held. It is already difficult to unseat a governor in a recall election; 2003 was the last year a governor in the state was booted. Since then, California has only turned bluer, with registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans by a nearly 2 to 1 margin. 

Newsom briefly nodded toward the criticism he’s endured, saying he’d learn from the mistakes he’s made during the pandemic.

“I know our progress hasn’t always felt fast enough. And look, we’ve made mistakes, I have made mistakes, but we own them, we learn from them, and we never stop trying,” he said.

The governor spent most of his prime-time address defending his response to the coronavirus, touting, among other things, an early stay-at-home order — the same kind of move that have pushed Republicans to try to recall him. 

“We were the first state, the first state to issue a stay-at-home, which helped us avoid the early spikes in cases. The top minds from our nation’s leading research institutions and live science companies immediately jumped into the development of groundbreaking treatments and vaccines. And while others competed to buy personal protective equipment at exorbitant prices, we quickly built our own pipeline supplying critical gear to millions and millions of essential workers,” he said. 

The governor also underscored California’s vaccination efforts to frame the pandemic as nearing its end, noting that 11 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered. Newsom also made sure to highlight a decrease in daily cases from 53,000 at the state’s peak to just over 3,800 Sunday and an 80 percent drop in hospitalizations.

“The building blocks of our recovery really are in place, and now, we’re leading the way out of this pandemic because we listened to the experts and we were guided by evidence. Today, the light at the end of this tunnel is brighter than ever,” he said.