After weeks of criticism over California's vaccine distribution and sudden changes to the state's stay-at-home orders, Gov. Gavin Newsom is now facing his biggest challenge yet — the threat of a potential recall.
Eighteen years ago, former Gov. Gray Davis faced the same threat and was removed from office. On LA Times Today, the former governor joined Spectrum News 1 anchor Lisa McRee to explain why he believes this time around, it will be a different outcome.
Davis says that California is one of the states that give the people power in various ways.
"They can make a law, it's called an initiative by gathering signatures, they can repeal a law calling a referendum by gathering signatures, and they can recall any elected officials by gathering signatures. I tell people those have been on the books since 1911. It is no surprise and if you do not like those powers being left to the people, then run for office in a different state because this comes with California's territory. This has become a cottage industry because there are signature gatherers, there are political consultants. The Republican Party has not had a lot of success in general elections since 2008. So this may be a new sign of things to come where they cannot win the election in even-numbered years, but they try to have it in an odd-numbered year if they can find things that rile people up and get them to the polls. So, every elected official has to deal with that, and I am confident that even if the signatures are gathered, that Gavin Newsom will prevail."
When the pandemic hit last year, people were happy with Newsom's daily briefings, but then they got frustrated with the reversals in terms of the stay-at-home orders. The previous federal government administration left states to fend for themselves, and Davis says there should have been a federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I believe most governors, Republican or Democrat, agree that the federal government should handle the big issues. Get the masks, the gowns, the gloves, with the personnel protective equipment, and you'll recall we spent months trying to chase that, including Gavin Newsom trying to get stuff in China. And, sometimes, FEMA would come in and outbid you, and the European Union would outbid you. There was a lot of wasted time and energy, even though he ended up getting a good deal and having many stockpiles now of all that stuff in California. But, that should have been handled by the federal government. And, the federal government should have had a national effort, not just to develop the vaccine, but to get it into people's arms."
A campaign to recall Newsom has collected more than 1.5 million signatures, but polls show that his popularity has not veered far from the 50% mark since he took office.
"I think he will win, and let me elaborate why. When I ran in 2003, the Republicans consisted of 46% of the electorate. At the end of 2020, they were down to 26%. That is a 20 point spread that Newsom has to work with. Plus, President Biden has already come out in favor of Gavin Newsom and opposing the recall. George Bush helped me on some minor manners, but basically, the administration was on the other side. The single biggest reason I think Gavin is in a better situation is that I was the only one dealing with an energy crisis in the 50 states, and all 50 states are now dealing with a pandemic," said Davis.
One thing that Newsom has and that Davis did not have to deal with, is social media.
"That is just the reality of modern-day life. Should a governor take this seriously? I am sure he is. You have to be prepared for it. Ronald Reagan had three times that they tried to recall him, and none of those efforts got on the ballot. But that is just a factor of life. You have to be prepared for some election to come out of the left field, so to speak. I think the most important things Gavin Newsom can do is get more vaccines for California, continue to open more areas where vaccines can be administered, and get more people to put shots in people's arms," added Davis.
Gavin Newsom is facing the threat of a potential recall. 18 years ago, former Governor Gray Davis faced the same threat and was removed from office. @GovernorDavis talks about the recent recall efforts tonight on #LATimesToday at 7 and 10 p.m. pic.twitter.com/zszMf8EFSD— Spectrum News 1 SoCal (@SpecNews1SoCal) February 17, 2021
You can watch LA Times Today at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. exclusively on Spectrum News 1 and streaming live on the Spectrum News app.