Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has backed the grassroots effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA), who seems to be riding a growing wave of unpopularity related to his COVID-19 policies, such as his recent widespread curfew order and his subsequent stay-at-home order affecting the majority of Californians.
“The ‘blue wave’ that the left-wing media spent months talking about disappeared in California,” Gingrich told Politico in a statement Friday. “This is a direct result of Gavin Newsom’s destructive leadership that has crippled small businesses and sent billions of dollars of California COVID-19 jobless benefits to criminals across the nation.”
As the former speaker notes, California Democrats failed to hold three blue seats in the 2020 election — and a fourth when counting the seat Congresswoman Katie Hill won in 2018, but which Democrats lost in a special election following her resignation. Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA) retained that seat in the 2020 election.
Gingrich also pointed to the recent revelation that unemployment benefits — potentially more than hundreds of millions of dollars worth — went to California inmates and people in foreign countries. (It’s not clear how many people who were filing were actually inmates, and how many simply used the name of an inmate to apply for the illicit benefits).
For a recall to end up on the ballot, organizers need to receive 1,495,709 signatures from registered California voters. But leaders in the Newsom recall effort have been optimistic about recent developments.
“Newt Gingrich’s endorsement will bring us into the national spotlight,’’ Rescue California Chair Tom Del Beccaro told Politico. “He’s all in: he will support us through social media, with donor phone calls, zoom meetings and fundraising emails.”
The former speaker’s endorsement also comes one month after a judge extended the signature gathering deadline until March 17, 2021. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, organizers say they’ve collected 800,000 signatures. Political operatives say organizers will likely need a 500,000 signature buffer to ensure the effort makes it.
Earlier this week, Politico reported that some individuals close to Newsom were getting nervous about the prospects of a recall effort storming the California political scene.
Sources close to Newsom said the governor’s office has been disorganized over the past month and has not responded effectively to damaging headlines. They point to his prolonged delay in naming a U.S. Senate replacement for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as one example.
As Newsom begins his third full year in office, the governor’s team is increasingly concerned with a long-shot conservative recall that could mushroom into a major threat in 2021 if it attracts significant financial support.
Throughout American history, only four gubernatorial recall efforts have made it to the ballot, and only two of those have been successful, according to FiveThirtyEight. North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier was recalled 1921, and California Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, was recalled in 2003. Davis was succeeded by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who served the remainder of Davis’ term before winning a term in his own right.