Leaders of a movement to recall California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom say they have enough signatures to force a special statewide election. The organization known as Recall Gavin Newsom 2020 says it has now gathered more than the minimum 1.5 million signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.
Randy Economy, a senior adviser to the organization, says they will continue to work to get hundreds of thousands more and validate them all before the March 17 deadline "We're not stopping at the 1.5 million signatures that we've collected thus far," he told Fox News. "Our ultimate goal is to get … 1.8 million to 2 million because we don't want to leave any doubt in anybody's mind in regards to the validity and the accuracy of what we're doing here."
Recall leaders cite Newsom's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has included strict statewide lockdowns on businesses and schools. He has even forced closures of churches. Recent polls show Newsom's popularity has been sliding among Californians.
Even some state Democratic lawmakers have criticized the governor's COVID-19 response.
Michael Trujillo, a Democratic strategist who has helped run campaigns for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, told the Los Angeles Times it's accurate for the governor to brand the recall backers as highly partisan. But he said that message is undercut when the Left is voicing criticism too.
"I think a lot of rank-and-file Democrats see Gavin Newsom as a combination of Charlie Brown and Lucy, where he wants to kick the football but he pulls it out himself before he can do it," Trujillo said.
The governor also faced a public drubbing for dining out with friends and lobbyists at an upscale San Francisco Bay Area restaurant last November, at the same time he was telling residents to stay home.
Democrats Cry 'Partisan Politics' as California GOP Gives $125,000 to Recall
Over the weekend, the California Republican Party announced it was giving $125,000 to the recall effort. The funds will go toward hiring workers to gather signatures. So far, that work has fallen largely on volunteers, along with mailings sent to households around the state.
Newsom's chief strategist Dan Newman said, "The facade is gone. It's never been more clear — they're admitting that the Republican recall scheme is simple partisan politics."
If Signatures Prove Valid... Then What?
After collecting and validating the signatures, there's a set period of time that people can withdraw their signatures, and other paperwork for the recall effort which is required by the state, according to KGO-TV.
If all of the signatures are legitimate, then the Lt. Governor would set the election within the next 60 to 80 days, according to California law. This means the recall election might be sometime this summer or in the early fall.
Could 2021 Be a Golden State Repeat of 2003?
As CBN News reported last month, Newsom lifted COVID-19 stay-at-home orders for the Golden State after he used previously secret projections for future hospital intensive care unit capacity.
State health officials said they were keeping all the data secret because it's complicated. The release of the data came after coronavirus experts, joined by a public access organization and a business group, said the information should be public, and as Gov. Newsom's political opponents decried the secrecy.
The secrecy in the Democratic Newsom administration brought recriminations from Republican legislative leaders and from former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is exploring a challenge to Newsom.
"Californians want to follow the science. Instead, we're forced to follow a governor who decides on a whim the fate of millions of Californians while refusing to release the data behind his contradictory and arbitrary decisions," Faulconer tweeted.
California's most recent recall effort was back in 2003 when Democrat Gov. Gray Davis was recalled. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was the elected successor and served until 2011.