Organizers of California’s 2021 gubernatorial recall election announced Monday they plan to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom once again.

Speaking to Spectrum News 1 political anchor Alex Cohen, Rescue California’s Campaign Director Anne Hyde Dunsmore charged that Newsom has abandoned the state to advance his presidential ambitions and led the state to a budget deficit of as much as $73 billion.

What You Need To Know

  • The political group Rescue California announced Monday it plans to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom

  • It's the second time the group has attempted to oust the governor; a 2021 effort to recall Newsom failed

  • Organizers of the recall say Newsom has abandoned the state to pursue presidential ambitions and led the state to a budget deficit of as much as $73 billion

  • A spokesperson for Newsom told POLITICO that they are "taking it seriously" but charged that "Trump Republicans are targeting Gov. Newsom because he is out there defending democracy and fighting for the reelection of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris"

“California needs a full-time governor who is fully focused on the serious problems the state and its citizens are facing,” Dunsmore said. “This may be our last opportunity to rescue and restore our state, while we highlight for the rest of the country the destruction Newsom has left in his wake.”

Rescue California led the last recall effort to oust Newsom in 2021, but it failed. More than 60% of the electorate said no to the option in a special election that cost taxpayers more than $200 million, according to the California Secretary of State.

Newsom was first elected governor in 2018 and won his second term in 2022. Rescue California needed 325 petitioners to file its notice of intent to recall. The group will serve the governor with the notice as required by law once the capitol opens Monday. The group needs 1.6 million signatures to quaify for a vote, the timing of which Newsom himself would decide.

A spokesperson for Newsom told POLITICO that they are "taking it seriously."

"These Trump Republicans are targeting Gov. Newsom because he is out there defending democracy and fighting for the reelection of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," Newsom spokesperson Nathan Click told the outlet. "He’s not going to be distracted from that fight. Democracy’s on the ballot, and he’s going to keep fighting."

A recent LA Times poll found half of adults nationwide believe the Golden State is in decline. Only 20% of respondents said California’s economy was strong or that it is a good place to raise a family.

"We're having trouble here," Dunsmore said. "What if he takes that and puts it on a federal level? Now that he's wasted our pocketbook, he will add to the woes. He doesn't know how to fix these problems."

The recall effort is launching as Republican groups see Newsom setting the stage for a future presidential run in 2028, and possibly as early as this November, as he travels the country and campaigns on behalf of President Joe Biden.

"Governor Newsom's star is rising," Occidental College politics professor Caroline Heldman told Spectrum News' Giselle Fernandez on Monday, before speculating that he could potentially be on the top of the Democratic ticket someday: "If there is a medical event, he is the frontrunner in the 2024 election and the rontrunner heading into 2028. He has a national spotlight, and the Republican party has taken notice, so this is an effort to dim his star."

Heldman said Rescue California's recall plan to oust Newsom is "a smart political ploy to keep him on the ropes."

Despite Newsom's approval rating dipping below 50% for the first time late last year, Heldman said she is doubtful the recall will suceed. 

"We're in a presidential election right now," she said, adding that California voters also need to select a replacement for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein this November. "I'm just not sure this is the priority Republicans would like it to be."

Several California lawmakers jumped to Newsom's defense, blasting the recall effort as "a complete waste of time and resources."

"This fringe group of GOPers lost terribly the first time and left Californians with a $215 million bill," Mike McGuire, President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate, wrote on social media. "Mark my word - California will trounce them again. We’ve got your back, @GavinNewsom."

"The same MAGA Republicans who tried to recall @GavinNewsom are at it again playing political games," U.S. Sen Alex Padilla wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. "With CA leading the fight on everything from climate action to abortion access, and even the future of our democracy, Governor Newsom won’t be distracted by partisan attacks."

California State Assemblymember Isaac Bryan pointed out that the last recall effort cost taxpayers more than $200 million: "For that same money we could have paid a year of instate tuition for the entire UCLA freshman class It’s time to stop calling the GOP fiscally conservative."