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Why Campaign to Recall Governor Gavin is Gaining Steam -- Politico Ace on GOP Odds in California

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Amid the chaos in Washington, a pivotal political drama also is unfolding in California, where grassroots and mainstream Republicans have combined in a signature-gathering effort to recall embattled Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Carla Marinucci, chief California correspondent for Politico, has been covering the story, and returns to Newsmakers TV to break down the aggressive bid to stage a special recall election in 2021 -- a year before Prince Gavin is slated to be on the ballot for re-election.

The recall organizers have until mid-March to submit 1.5 million signatures on their petition and claim so far to have gathered at least a million. If the recall qualifies, there would be two questions on the ballot: the first, a yay-or-nay on whether to recall Newsom; the second, a list of candidates, including the incumbent, to serve the remainder of the term he won in 2018, in a winner-take-all brawl -- no majority vote required.

"He's got to get control very fast," of the deadly, untamed pandemic situation, Marinucci said. "He's got to get this vaccine (distribution process) super-charged and into people's arms."

Until recently, Team Newsom was studiously ignoring the recall. Then on Tuesday, a group of allies, led by state Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks and a posse of local and state elected officials, held a press conference in which they denounced campaign organizers as pro-Trump extremists, out to stage "a coup in California."

Following last week's riot at the Capitol, the harsh language backfired, because the right of citizen recall is in a thoroughly legal procedure enshrined in the state constitution and not, you know, a bloody armed insurrection. Bad went to worse when reporters demanded evidence from Hicks of connections between organizers and the Capitol mob, and failed to produce.

A recall is virtually the best, perhaps only, pathway that Republicans have to reclaiming the governorship anytime soon: Registered GOP voters are -- barely -- the second largest group in California, with 24.19 of registration, compared to the Democrats 46 percent and 23.97 percent who are "No Party Preference" independents.

Although the last Republican was elected to statewide office in 2004, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a throwback, GOP coastal moderate, is in the early stages of a possible 2022 challenge to Newsom, and could prove formidable in a large recall field (the 2003 ballot on which Arnold Schwarznegger replaced the recalled Gov. Gray Davis included 130 wannabes) with a plurality victor.

In our interview, Carla also discussed the underreported story of how California Republicans, aside from Joe Biden's statewide stomping of Trump, actually had a strong showing last November: besides winning back four of seven suburban House seats that Democrats flipped in 2018, the conservative position also prevailed on high-profile ballot measures on taxes, affirmative action and criminal justice reform.

That said, the state's most prominent Republican, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, is currently caught in political no man's land, she explained: having been a foursquare Trump crusader -- including his pro-Trump votes objecting to properly elected Biden electors, a few hours after five people (including a police officer) died and members were terrorized, McCarthy now faces a split in the House GOP caucus, with a small but important slice of congressional Republicans favoring an 11th-hour impeachment of the president for inciting an insurrection.

You can watch our interview with Carla Marinucci by clicking through this link, or listen on our podcast here. If you're reading on the blog, see it via YouTube below.


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Pet of the Week

Felix, a pre-Covid, English cream, golden retriever puppy, has beefed up to an 85-pound, 16-month old lap dog during the pandemic, courtesy of Hap Freund and Claudia Chotzen. Felix is closely following impeachment proceedings.

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Images: Prince Gavin (SF Chronicle); Carla Marinucci (courtesy); New Yorker cartoon by Paul Noth; Felix (H

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