It’s hard to say what the tipping point was for Californians in regard to their now almost-universal disdain of the performance of their once Teflon-like governor, Gavin Newsom.
It could be his complete lack of vision as it pertains to the shuttering of schools in California, his heavy-handed COVID-19 lockdowns of the state that have resulted in tens of thousands of businesses going under, or the massive unemployment-benefits fraud scandal that arose in 2020. Those were all contributing factors, no doubt, and so is the fact that the winery of which he is part owner stayed open during mandatory lockdowns, his other businesses drew nearly $3 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, and his children continue to attend an expensive private school in person while the vast majority of California students are forced to receive their education exclusively through distance learning.
All that points to an out-of-touch bureaucrat who might be eyeing a future job he longs for more than the one he currently has.
There was one more incident that Californians can’t seem to forget, and it’s what has compelled waves of residents to now go so far as to actually take part in a recall effort against the governor: the tone-deaf and hypocritical dinner he attended at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley in November. There he was, the camera-friendly politician in all of his glorious smugness, celebrating the birthday of one of his confidantes without wearing a mask.
So, add it all up and you have millions of angry residents of the most populous state in the U.S. wanting Newsom out of office. Recall organizers say things are going pretty well toward potentially accomplishing that goal, as they have already received nearly half of the 1.5 million petition signatures needed to put a recall on the ballot. Their deadline is mid-March, and it looks like there is a very realistic chance of it happening.
If the necessary signatures are received, Newsom would then have to fight off challengers in a special election, similar to 2003, when Gov. Gray Davis was thrown out and Arnold Schwarzenegger took over the top job. There’s no guarantee that Newsom would be replaced, as there would be no donation limits on fundraising, and there’s no question he would have unlimited funds to work with against any Republican challengers.
Is it unlikely that, by the end of 2021, Newsom could be out of a job and looking for a way to make himself relevant again as a national political figure. But everything that has happened in 2020 so far has been unlikely. And this is California we’re talking about, where anything is possible.