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The Fake Grassroots Newsom Recall Effort Passes Signature Threshold

Updated: Apr 28, 2021 12:39
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Sixth time’s the charm if you’re the five guys trying to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. As of Monday, the “grassroots” effort surpassed the 1.5-million signature threshold to force a special election. Californians will now have to deal with this circus at the ballot box sometime between this summer and late December.

As our own Joe Kakura explained back in January, the effort is far from grassroots and far from new — these same five donors had already attempted to recall Newsom five times in the barely two years he’s held office. The donor group is a mashup of venture capitalists, charter school pushers, predatory developers, Trump supporters and an Orange County guy who likes to cite Proverbs 3:9:

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with first fruits of your crops, and your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will overbrim with new wine.”

Sounds like a totally wholesome effort, right?

Under different names and different gripes, they attempted the recall roll on Newsom in March 2019, twice in August 2019, February 2020 and again in June 2020 before they finally hit their jackpot. 

This time around, they capitalized on frustrations over the state’s COVID-19 regulations. Now, California has its share of problems, but relative to the rest of the country, COVID response and outcome isn’t one of them. Regulations some are loudly complaining about have effectively taken the state from one of the worst coronavirus hotspots to the 23rd lowest incidence rate of all 56 U.S. states and territories, including D.C.

According to newly released (and undercounted) 2020 census data, there are roughly 334.7 million people in the U.S., including D.C. and all five territories.

California, being the nation’s most populous state with about 39.5 million residents, represents nearly 12 percent of the whole country and all its territorial arms. The 22 states and territories outperforming California in incidence rates represent about 27 percent of the total population. 

All those statistics (that took far longer to calculate than to condense into a couple of sentences) mean basically this: More than 60 percent of the country is falling behind California’s mitigation efforts.

While some attribute the improvement to immunity built from previous case spikes, that argument kind of falls on its face when you look at the fact that New York still reports the 18th highest incidence rate nationwide.   

Gov. Gavin Newsom looks at Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in a subzero freezer as the first 33,000 doses arrives in the state on Monday, December 14, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Gavin Newsom)

Here’s the point: Newsom may have screwed the pooch a few times in his response, the EDD and the DMV have been horrid, and, yes, French Laundry…blah, blah, blah, but he also led this state through a nightmare and put us in a position where we can actually hope again. So, let’s call this what it is, because it certainly isn’t about COVID-19 regulations.

This is an unabashed run at a Republican takeover fueled by an excuse of the moment that found leverage in a bunch of people pissed off about masks and gym capacities. Whine more. 

Some criticism of the governor’s leadership is valid debate material, but he’s still pulling between 46 and 52 percent approval ratings. The only time a California governor has been successfully recalled was in the case of Gray Davis in 2003, who was tracking with a dismal 24 percent approval rating at the time, opening the gate for Arnold Schwarzenegger to take his seat as a Republican. That’s hardly the situation we’re currently in, and Caitlyn Jenner is hitting the crack pipe if she thinks she can pull off a “Terminator” move as a trans woman fronting for an anti-trans party.

The impending circus we now have ahead will cost the state about $400 million, according to estimates calculated by California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials President Donna Johnston. That bill comes at a time when California is struggling to help residents and businesses recover from the pandemic-related economic crisis. 

While the recall effort is more than likely to fail, we still have to pay the bill for the useless political theater, making this whole thing not just annoying, but damaging. Joy. 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.


  1. Gail S
    April 28, 2021 at 12:53 am

    It is not just about shutdowns. It’s about putting people out of work and failing at providing unemployment. 13 months in, the EDD is still a mess with one new problem after another. And it’s not like Newsom has a history of being on top of anything. He was drunk most if his mayoral stint.

  2. MattyJ
    August 7, 2021 at 1:17 am

    I understand that we’re supposed to pick a successor even if we vote against the recall. Who? Hopefully we’ll get a mini voting guide soon, mail ballots are going out this month.