Cordie Williams, dubbed the Megaphone Marine for his activism and military background, said the campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom can serve as a template and inspire other states to push back against the actions of politicians who he said curtail constitutional freedoms.
Williams, who founded 1776 Forever Free, an organization that advocates for constitutional rights, told NTD’s “Focus Talk” program that the recall campaign has amassed more than 2.1 million signatures, more than enough to place an election on the ballot and potentially force Newsom from office.
“This is a shot across the bow that folks aren’t going to take tyranny anymore,” Williams said, arguing that Newsom acted like an authoritarian in enforcing COVID-19 lockdown policies that Williams said were discriminatory and encroached on people’s constitutional rights.
“The moment the government starts to cross that line, that’s when patriots and Americans, and Californians, needed to push back.”
California is one of 20 states that have provisions that allow voters to recall elected officials and repeal or pass laws by placing them on the ballot. While recall attempts are not uncommon in the state, they rarely win enough support to get on the ballot, and even fewer succeed. In 2003, unpopular Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and replaced with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But a year of whipsaw pandemic lockdowns, crushing job losses from business closures, shuttered schools, and the disruption of daily life has soured Californians. People have many grievances—from California’s wallet-sapping taxes to a raging homelessness crisis that continues unabated despite billions in spending.
Newsom, given his role as governor, has become the target of that resentment. This has been further exacerbated by the fallout from a multibillion-dollar fraud scandal at the state unemployment agency, and Newsom weathering a public shaming for dining out with friends and lobbyists at an exclusive Napa, California, restaurant last fall while telling residents to stay home for safety.
“You look at Newsom’s [administration], the only thing you can think is that it’s not only socialist, it’s not only communist, but it’s not leadership at all,” Williams said.
Recall organizers said they’ve collected more than 2.1 million signatures and, as of March 22, officials had verified 1,188,073. County election officials have until April 29 to complete signature verification, with just under 1.5 million petition signatures required to authorize the election.
As final confirmation of the signature count is pending, Newsom has kicked off his campaign to defeat the recall last week, acknowledging the election was all but inevitable.
In an interview on ABC’s “The View” on March 16, Newsom said he’s “worried” about the recall and characterized the initiative as an attack on California’s progressive policies.
“If you look at the list of grievances from the proponents of this campaign, it goes to our values, it’s less about me, it’s more about California and our values, Democratic Party values,” Newsom told the outlet, labeling organizers of the recall effort as political extremists, calling them “folks that quite literally enthusiastically support QAnon conspiracies.”
While the recall is backed by state and national Republicans, organizers argue that they have a broad-based coalition, including many independents and Democrats.
But framing the recall campaign as a partisan exercise may only work if Democrats don’t place an alternative to Newsom on the ballot and so add to its credibility.
“Hell no, we don’t want a Democrat on the replacement line. We’ve seen this movie before, and we know how it turns out,” said Garry South, a former adviser to Davis, in remarks to the Los Angeles Times. Davis was ousted by Schwarzenegger after Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante initially said he wouldn’t run, but later changed his mind.
“Bustamante reneged and got into the race,” South said. “And it gave credibility to the recall.”
Voters will face two questions on the ballot—whether they want to recall Newsom and, if so, who should replace him.
So far, three Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring—former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former Rep. Doug Ose, and businessman John Cox.
“Americans want their freedom,” Williams said. “Americans want choice, and I think you’re starting to see that in the cities where governors are getting a little bit too tyrannical.”
People are starting to push back, Williams said, “and that’s the American way.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.