The effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom has been receiving national attention after backers of the movement say they now have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Recently, the Republican National Committee donated $250,000 to the recall effort to help infuse cash and energy into the campaign. Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele tells Inside the Issues the money is a political play for the governor’s seat in California.
“If you can’t win an election directly, then you go through the side door recall and maybe they’ll have a Republican candidate that will step in and fill that void if the governor is in fact recalled,” he said.
Steele is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the host of “The Michael Steele Podcast.” He doubts the GOP will be able to gain much ground in the state through a recall effort alone and insists the party must have longer term goals and grassroot campaigns to shift California’s current political standing.
“Even if you get lucky here, the chances of holding that seat when there is a special election for the governor or a general election for governor, that problem still persists,” Steele noted. “The reality is this is purely politics. Unfortunate politics given the things that the state has to deal with and contend with, but politics nonetheless.”
He says there are some clear distinctions between Governor Gray Davis’ recall in 2003 and today’s effort to recall Newsom. In 2003, Steele explains Davis was incredibly unpopular and polling in the low 30s with California voters. The recall effort also had a lot of energy behind it after an increased car tax and rolling blackouts.
However, the former RNC chair says that’s not necessarily the case with Governor Newsom.
“At least some of the polling I’ve seen for the current governor is high 40s, and his position is a lot stronger than his predecessor was in a similar situation,” Steele said. “It is very difficult to unseat a governor when the numbers just aren't there for his recall.”
Even though California’s Republican party is currently in the throes of the recall movement and national Republicans are following in the footsteps of President Trump, Steele hopes the GOP will eventually return to its original tenets.
“My hope is that you see more of those voters stand up and push back,” he said. “If not, you’ll see that they’ll just leave the party, and we’ve seen that already after January 6th, just in three weeks in one state, 30,000 left the GOP.”
In the future, the former RNC chair wants to help drive the party towards issues of individual rights and liberties and free market enterprise, instead of sowing greater division throughout the country.
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