Newsom Responds to Recall Attempt as Campaign Deadline Approaches 

March 15, 2021 Updated: March 15, 2021

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has responded to a recall campaign against him after avoiding the subject for months.

During a radio interview with KQED on March 12, he said the recall has more to do with his political opponents than with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. His opponents have more concern with his broad progressive agenda, he said.

“It’s about immigration,” Newsom told the station. “It’s about our health care policies. It’s about our criminal justice reform. It’s about the diversity of the state. It’s about our clean air, clean water programs, meeting our environmental strategies.”

He also showcased his new campaign website against the recall on Twitter, where he said he will do what he can to stop the movement.

“I won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall—but I will fight it,” Newsom said. “There is too much at stake. Getting Californians vaccinated, our economy safely reopened, and our kids back in school are simply too important to risk.”

The governor also addressed the French Laundry incident, where he violated his own COVID-19 rules by eating shoulder-to-shoulder with others without a mask at a high-end Napa Valley restaurant. The December event caused recall efforts to soar.

“That’s those things you can never get back. And, you know, I owned up to that,” Newsom told KQED. “And no one hid from that. And that was a mistake. Crystal clear.”

The governor also sent out an email through his communications team that asked his supporters to join him in opposing the recall.

“It’s a partisan, Republican recall—backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic,” Newsom wrote.

“California cannot afford to be sidetracked by partisan political games. So we’ll fight this recall for the reason I am fighting to get every Californian vaccinated—because ending this pandemic as quickly as possible is too important to get delayed by Trump loyalists and far right-wing Republicans.”

Rescue California campaign manager Anne Hyde Dunsmore said that the recall campaign has seen a nonpartisan response to Newsom’s lack of management.

“[Newsom said] just the Republicans are doing this. We don’t have enough Republicans to do this alone,” Dunsmore said. “We don’t have enough Republicans to get 2 million signatures, and by the way, 50 percent of the signatures on those petitions were women. When is he going to start talking about that?”

Newsom “has not been forced to live with the decisions he’s made,” she said. “That’s the point. Everybody else has had to deal with it, but not him. So he’s unaware of how people have been struggling for well over a year. It didn’t start with COVID, but COVID was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Dunsmore also touched on what initiated the recall.

“As we sit here now and wait for these signatures to finish being turned in and get validated, we need to start reflecting on how this really started,” she said. “This started with massive mismanagement that resulted in rolling blackouts, a homeless rate that instead of going down based on his promises has skyrocketed to being the worst in the country, jobless rates that are the worst in the country, and an education program that was already hurting, and now has been obliterated to the bottom of the list.”

The deadline to turn in collected signatures is March 17, and the campaign has collected more than 2.06 million signatures, Dunsmore said.  About 1.5 million verified signatures are needed to trigger a recall election, though some of those collected by the recall campaign will be discarded during the validation process.

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis