The California recall election to determine the fate of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is less than two weeks away, and the polls show Newsom barely hanging on to his office in the recall vote. Republican talk show host Larry Elder is beating the field in the race to replace Newsom if it goes against him.
An idiosyncrasy of the recall election in California is that voters must not only decide whether Newsom should be recalled but also who should replace him if he is dismissed. The second question is moot if Newsom succeeds in defeating the recall effort.
The rhetoric coming from California Democrats is quite entertaining.
NEW: I spoke to @GavinNewsom about his tight CA recall election.
"It is a Republican recall, it's backed by the RNC, it's backed by Gingrich and Huckabee and Nunez… Fundamentally, yeah, this is a Republican recall."
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) September 1, 2021
Backed by Gingrich? Newt Gingrich? He may be the most irrelevant Republican in California. Newsom is so scared of being recalled that he calls out a turn-of-the-century Republican speaker of the house? What’s next? A warning about Barry Goldwater?
In truth, Newsom has a 65 percent Democratic registration advantage in the state. There may be more Libertarians or Socialists in California than Republicans.
Needless to say, this is not a “Republican” recall. If it were, Newsom could ignore the polls and keep enraging the people of Calfornia with his radical policies. Instead, he’s running for his political life.
The reason? Orange Man Bad jacked up the Hispanic turnout for the GOP and now Democrats have to worry that one of their primary and most loyal factions has gone AWOL for the recall election.
In a recent CBS News-YouGov poll, Latinos, who represent about 40 percent of California’s population and about 30 percent of the electorate, were evenly split on whether to vote “yes” or “no” on the recall. In a Berkeley-IGS survey in July, 4-in-10 Latinos were ready to jettison Newsom.
Those numbers aren’t surfacing in a red or purple state, but in big, blue California, where no Republican holds statewide office, Joe Biden clobbered Trump here by nearly 30 percentage points and Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two-to-one. And when first elected in 2018, Newsom himself carried nearly two-thirds of the Latino vote, according to exit polls.
Combined with the probability that some Republican defectors from 2020 — especially suburban white women — may return to vote Republican in 2022, Democrats are beginning to sweat.
We know this because of the rhetoric they’re using. The recall concept was originally championed by a progressive governor, Hiram Johnson, but if you listen to Bernie Sanders and other radicals, it’s a plot by Republicans to destroy democracy.
“At this unprecedented moment in American history, when we’re trying to address the crisis of climate change, guarantee health care for all and pass real immigration reform, the last thing we need is to have some right-wing Republican governor in California,” Sanders, tacitly referring to Elder, says in the new ad.
Newsom’s scare tactics raise the specter of California becoming “Texas or Florida” as far as COVID response is concerned.
Newsom pointed to leading recall challenger Larry Elder’s assertion that he would end the state’s mask and vaccine requirements immediately if he is elected governor.
“His model is Texas and Florida, and Mississippi,” Newsom said. “We have among the lowest positivity rates in America. They have the highest positivity rates in America. We have one of the lowest case rates in America. They’re among the highest.”
The last thing any self-respecting, urbane, cosmopolitan Californian wants is to be thought of is an Okie from Muscogee.
But there are an awful lot of Californians who wouldn’t mind Texas or Florida tax rates, housing prices, or safer streets. Newsom may have outfoxed himself on that one.
Newsom may very well squeak by. The next two weeks will see a tsunami of cash from Newsom and other Democrats, who can’t afford the appearance of weakness prior to the 2022 elections. But no matter what happens on September 14, Newsom must face the voters in November of 2022, when the challengers are going to be much better funded and better known.