Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Why ‘My We’ve Still Got a Long Way to Go’ in Recalling California Governor Gavin Newsom, Even Though the Recall Was Lost

To kick off his three-day stay at The New York Times’ headquarters in Manhattan to discuss his policies for California, Gov. Gavin Newsom shook hands and took a few questions from several reporters and staff.

What everyone wanted to know, though, was if the effort to recall him would remain underway after Tuesday’s primary election.

“I’m still exploring,” he said, speaking of his career in office. “We’re still trying to figure out what direction the people of California want us to go in.”

Then, pointing at the Guinness Book of World Records as he spoke, the governor added, “You do know how to count on that.”

Against the backdrop of Mr. Newsom’s very public downfall, the campaign to recall him in 2020 ended in a whimper Tuesday. A grassroots effort to recall the Democrat failed to garner even 1 percent of the votes cast, according to election results posted on the secretary of state’s website, with exactly 19 of the 172,758 voters casting a ballot for recalling Mr. Newsom from the governor’s office.

Mr. Newsom, 57, had earlier declared he would not be “taken down by a recall effort,” and his campaign staff, with an aggressive “regret” button and plastered on their office walls, urged constituents to vote to help stop it.

Mr. Newsom, who was elected governor in November 2018, decided to seek reelection by running against two Republicans and the Green Party’s John Chiang, who also claimed the lieutenant governor’s seat.

Mr. Newsom, who initially made allies across the aisle, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who had largely ignored Mr. Newsom’s run, to support his gubernatorial run, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who invited Mr. Newsom to join him in his home state, instead chose to put his faith in Democratic Party leaders as opposed to Republican ones.

An “Invite Gavin Newsom to Washington” video campaign, which asked a number of prominent Democrats to visit California and campaign for him, took a similar path to the current debate regarding a potential 2020 run, asking constituents to “fight and serve” like he has. (Mr. Newsom’s dad was an army veteran.)

Mr. Newsom, the youngest governor in California history, enters the 2020 cycle as his re-election campaign still is not certain. No Republican filed to run for governor.

Out of 11 Democrats who have officially announced their candidacy for governor, most are lawyers, professors, education leaders, or statewide elected officials.

The Democratic Field has emerged as a diverse one.

The Democratic field is lined with candidates, both young and old, who were high school students when they participated in the historic recall of Gov. Gray Davis and convicted Sen. Rod Wright.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been a heavy favorite of the Democratic establishment, along with Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who has served multiple terms and is termed out, and state Treasurer John Chiang, a billionaire.

David Lowy, chairman of the California Democratic Party, has called for the field to consolidate.

“The landscape for all Democrats is likely to be distinctly different, and we need to focus our energy on our common agenda,” Mr. Lowy said in a statement.

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