The recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proving to be more of a “citizen movement” than the successful 2003 recall of former Gov. Gray Davis, according to a campaign manager behind the movement.
Newsom, a Democrat in his first term, is facing criticism from within his party and from Republicans for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. As of Feb. 7, the recall effort has garnered more than 1.4 million signatures of the 1.5 million required to get on the ballot, while some Silicon Valley players have recently voiced support.
Anne Hyde Dunsmore, campaign manager and finance director of Rescue California—the organization behind the effort—told Epoch Times affiliate NTD that based on recent polls, she believes the recall effort against Newsom is vastly different from that faced by Davis, which she saw as a “very partisan situation.”
“I see this as a citizen movement,” Dunsmore said. “We’re attracting interest all across the board, and if you dig down into those polls, I think the more dangerous numbers are that within the no party preference category of voters, he’s upside down there too—his disapproval is higher than his approval.”
“I think 30 percent of the electorate has no party preference—that’s the group he really has to worry about,” she explained.
A spokesman for Newsom has told news outlets that the recall campaign is a waste of money and that the governor would “rather focus on getting through the homestretch of the pandemic.”
Dunsmore explained that while 1.5 million valid signatures are needed to trigger the recall election by the March 17 deadline, a “buffer” must be planned for, as many are often removed during the process of validation. During validation, signatures can be removed because of duplication, if the person isn’t a registered voter, or for other reasons.
“Our validity rate, according to the secretary of state’s website, is about 84 percent, which is great—that would really require us to get about 1.8 million signatures in order to guarantee a 1.5 million signature target,” Dunsmore said.
The final straw for many people regarding Newsom’s leadership, Dunsmore said, was dining at the French Laundry restaurant with lobbyists after telling Californians to stay home, a much-publicized incident for which Newsom has apologized.
“I think the turning point was really the French Laundry scandal and watching him be hypocritical about, no more than two households should be having Thanksgiving together and oh, by the way, put your mask on in between bites. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a picture of him shoulder to shoulder, no masks at the French Laundry.
“He lied about it being outside. He got caught. And that was really when everybody turned from, ‘OK, he’s hypocritical; now, he’s not to be trusted,’” Dunsmore said.
“His [Newsom’s] approval ratings have tanked. I think he’s sort of Gray Davis on steroids. He’s his own worst enemy and he’s our biggest asset.
“The more he keeps disenfranchising himself from citizens of this state in a bipartisan, nonpartisan fashion, I think the numbers are going to grow on either side of the aisle and possibly in the middle,” she added.