California Gov. Gavin Newsom facing recall effort amid pandemic


LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Organizers behind the effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom are confident they’ll get enough signatures in the next month to prompt a special election.

Adding fuel to the push, a new poll shows more than half of Californians disapprove of Newsom’s job performance.

Newsom cruised to victory in 2018 to become the state’s 40th governor.

But according to a new poll by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, his approval rating has plummeted from over 60% four months ago to 46% Tuesday.

“He held up pretty well in the first two years of his term, but his performance on the pandemic has really suffered over the past three months and that’s what I think is fueling the decline,” said Mark DiCamillo, UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.

DiCamillo says while instances like Newsom’s French Laundry dinner have drawn criticism, those surveyed were most anxious over the pandemic response. Other concerns include the slow vaccine rollout and massive unemployment fraud. About a third of those polled said they would vote Newsom out if a recall election happens.

“I would’ve said a month ago that the chances were low, but as of right now, as you look at the signature gathering, the problems facing this Governor — I think it’s more likely than not,” said DiCamillo.

A special election requires at least 1.5 million certified signatures by March 17. 

Those behind the recall push say they’ve already gathered 1.3 million signatures and supporters are said to have no party preference.

“They don’t care — Republican or Democrat — its outcome. Are we going to get rid of this guy before he signs any more bills in October and we hope so,” said Anne Dunsmore, Campaign Manager for Rescue California.

“I do not think this recall will qualify and if it does, I think the Governor’s popularity is high enough that he will prevail,” said former Governor Gray Davis.

Davis is the only California Governor ever to be recalled. He believes Newsom’s numbers will improve.

“As each week passes, more and more people will be vaccinated,” said Davis. “More and more people will realize that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. By this summer, hopefully, most people will see this virus in their rearview mirror as something we survived in part because of Governor Newsom‘s leadership.”

However, several contenders are already in the gubernatorial ring, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Newsom’s 2018 Republican opponent John Cox and billionaire venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.

As for the current governor, the undecideds are key.

“People know who Gavin Newsom is … 19% are saying they’re not sure how they would vote on a recall election if it were held today and I think it’s really voters saying, ‘I gotta wait and see how things unfold here with the pandemic,” said DiCamillo.

Newsom’s office did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment from NewsNation.

Notably, every California governor since Ronald Reagan has faced recall efforts.

It was the first-ever successful recall of Gray Davis in 2003 that brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to office.

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