Biden joins Newsom as California governor makes final push in recall election
Gavin Newson made a final push through the state on the eve of California’s gubernatorial recall election, with Joe Biden joining the governor on the campaign trail as he made a last plea to voters.
With just one day to go before the recall race concludes, Newsom appears to be in a strong position. The latest surveys indicate that the effort to unseat the governor is struggling, with recent surveys showing Newsom with a double-digit lead. Some antsy Republicans seeking to replace the governor – including his frontrunning challenger, the radio host Larry Elder – are already bracing for defeat by spreading false conspiracy theories that the election is rigged.
Biden, who stopped by Idaho and northern California on Monday to tour areas devastated by western wildfires, is spending the evening with Newsom in Long Beach for a get-out-the-vote rally to encourage voters in the largely Latino neighborhood to cast their ballots against the recall.
Newsom, who greeted Biden in Sacramento on Monday afternoon and accompanied the president for a briefing on wildfires, praised Biden for tackling the climate crisis and wildfires.
“We’re not sparring partners,” Newsom said of the president. “We’re working partners.” For the governor, who has faced criticism for overstating the state’s progress on wildfire prevention, the events with Biden were also a final chance to show voters his commitment to addressing the health and climate crises the state is facing.
“This has been a hard year and a half,” Newsom said.
Although polls appeared neck and neck in the weeks leading up to the election, they appear to have trended in Newsom’s favor in recent days. The governor, who has characterized the choice between him and Republican challengers like Elder as a “choice about life and death”, has aimed to rev up Democrats by warning that while he has made mistakes, his challengers – who have vowed to lift pandemic restrictions, including mask and vaccine mandates – would cause a public health disaster.
The stakes of the recall – which will determine who will lead the most populous US state, with the nation’s largest economy, are indeed high, political experts say.
The special election in the Golden state has in many ways “become a national election” – a microcosm of broader partisan issues and a testing ground for what might come next year, said Mindy Romero, the founder of the Center for Inclusive Democracy, a non-partisan research organization.
A decisive victory for Newsom could help Democrats in California and nationally shore up support ahead of the midterm elections, Romero said. But anything short of assured success for the Democratic governor in deep-blue California could provide Republicans with ammunition to characterize their rival party as ineffectual and unpopular.
Elder, whose early, meteoric rise appears to be fizzling out, held a news conference with the actor Rose McGowan on Sunday, who accused the governor’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, of trying to bribe her to prevent her from revealing allegations against Harvey Weinstein. A spokesperson for Siebel Newsom had denied the allegation.
As mail-in ballots and early returns are tallied ahead of election day, Elder has also asked supporters to report “anything suspicious”, as Fox News hosts and Donald Trump fueled the false narrative that voter fraud was rampant.
The recall effort has put Newsom in the odd position of having to fight for his political future despite retaining broad approval among Californians. The campaign to gather signatures to hold a recall picked up steam amid the worst of the state’s pandemic surge – with recall proponents capitalizing on frustrations over state policies shutting down schools and businesses and mandating masking and social distancing.
On the eve of the election, many voters were signaling that the state’s peculiar recall process needed to change. In a poll released on Monday by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, a 55% majority also supported the idea of increasing the number of signatures required for a recall, and 59% said that recallers should have to give a reason for wanting to remove an official such as illegal or unethical conduct.
“This is the politics of grievance,” said James Lance Taylor, a political scientist at the University of San Francisco. “Because of the way this whole phenomenon works in California, it is making it possible for a very competent governor to be removed for no real, legitimate reason.”