California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Koulanakis, second in command to Governor Gavin Newsom (D), has defended the governor and fired off an apparent warning shot to fellow Democrats who may consider entering a potential recall election.
“Governor Newsom does not deserve to be recalled. And I think it would be shameful for any Democrat to put their name on the ballot to replace them, myself included,” Kounalakis told Fox News in a statement. “The focus of the Governor, and everyone in elected office right now, should be on vaccinations, getting kids back to school, and people back to work.”
“Governor Newsom was the first in the country to issue a state-wide stay at home order, which was the right thing to do, and saved thousands of lives,” she said. “We are now engaged in an unprecedented process to vaccinate tens of millions of Californians. With each passing day, we are becoming more efficient and inclusive in this incredibly important task.”
During the 2003 California recall, then-Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamente declared in June that he would not seek to oust incumbent Governor Gray Davis (D), but changed his mind by August, just as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was entering the race.
“I’m here to tell everyone to vote no on the recall and yes on Bustamante,” Bustamente said at the time, reports CNN. “It is important that a serious Democrat is on the ballot.”
Even though Bustamente would later accuse Davis aides of undermining his purported attempt to keep a Democrat in office, he continued his pitch to voters up until the October election, urging people to vote “no” on the first portion of the ballot — which asked if the governor should be recalled — but “yes” on the second portion of the ballot — which asked who should replace the governor if he were recalled, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2003.
In order for the recall effort to go before voters, organizers must submit enough signatures to equal 12% of the number of Californians who voted in the last election. As such, organizers will need 1.5 million verified signatures before March 17, 2021. Newsom recall organizers plan to provide an update on the status of the effort on Friday and have disputed statements from supporters of the effort that they have gathered enough signatures, according to Fox News Los Angeles reporter Elex Michaelson.
For the emerging 2021 recall effort, Democrats have thus far appeared to be on the same page publicly. In a statement on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki offered support to Newsom, saying that President Joe Biden was against the recall effort.
In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 9, 2021
On the other side of the aisle, two major GOP candidates have already announced their candidacy: former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has been endorsed by a majority of the Republican lawmakers in the state assembly and in the state senate, and businessman John Cox, who ran against Newsom for governor back in 2018.