California Republicans say new recall effort against Gavin Newsom is different this time

Gov. Gavin Newsom has been served recall papers, according to one of the organizers of the recall campaign, Anne Dunsmore, a Republican political consultant.

The recall effort, led by Rescue California, cited the state’s budget deficit — which the Legislative Analyst’s Office predicted last week will be $73 billion — as well as recent legislation allowing undocumented immigrants access to health care, as the main reasons they launched another campaign.

“The bottom line is that we can’t afford to have three more budgets with this guy,” Dunsmore told The Bee. “People are saying, ‘We only have two more years,’ but we can’t afford that. What does that mean for the following years?”

In a response on X, Newsom posted that he would “defeat” those leading the renewed effort to boot him from office.

“Trump Republicans are launching another wasteful recall campaign to distract us from the existential fight for democracy and reproductive freedom,” Newsom posted, after Politico first reported the story early Monday.

Other California Democrats, such as Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Attorney General Rob Bonta, spoke out in support of Newsom, who avoided a ballot measure to recall him in 2021, which conservatives organized in response to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest recall papers were served just days after a Public Policy Institute of California poll showed Newsom’s approval rating dipping slightly lower than his 49% rating last fall. According to the poll, 48% of California voters now approve of the governor. The PPIC surveyed 1,628 adult California residents, including 1,075 likely voters, between Feb. 6 and Feb. 13.

Dunsmore said organizers will attempt to gather enough signatures in time to get the recall on the ballot this November, but acknowledged, “it’s a very steep climb.”

They will need to amass over a million signatures before the recall can make its way to the ballot; state law requires the number of signatures amount to 12% of turnout in the last gubernatorial election for governor, which is about 1.38 million. A judge granted the recall effort a four-month extension in 2021 due to the pandemic, which recall organizers won’t get this time around.

That said, Dunsmore insisted they’re not “recreating the wheel.”

“There’s an electorate already out there,” Dunsmore said.

Californians overwhelmingly voted in support of Newsom keeping his seat in 2021; nearly 8 million voters supported him, while 5 million wanted to recall him. Of those 5 million, about 3.5 million supported the leading candidate to replace Newsom, conservative talk show host Larry Elder.

But Dunsmore doesn’t see that as an explicitly bad sign for the effort. The movement to recall the governor itself was popular — it was the candidates to replace him that weren’t.

“People look at the success of something based on the final outcome,” she said, “which was Larry Elder running, and losing badly. But Larry Elder carried his own message, not the message of the people.”

This time around, recall organizers plan to be more involved with voicing support — or opposition — for the candidates vying to replace Newsom. To earn the recall organizers backing, Dunsmore said, candidates need to be “on message.”

“That message is very specific,” she added. “Stop giving money to illegal immigrants, stop letting criminals out of the street because its politically correct. It’s a disaster, and it’s creating something more expensive ... We need to build back our bank account, which is now in a $73 billion deficit.

Any candidate who doesn’t address these concerns shouldn’t run.”