California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) hasn’t said much about the increasingly likely possibility he’ll have to fight for his job in a recall election, but he admitted Tuesday morning that the matter is very concerning to him.
“Am I worried about it? Of course I’m worried about it,” he said on ABC’s “The View” when host Whoopi Goldberg asked him how he felt about it.
“We’re taking it seriously,” said Newsom, who was elected governor in 2018. “I have to do my job every single day but I’m going to fight this thing because I’m going to fight for California values and the things I hold dear.”
Newsom acknowledged Tuesday that the current count of signatures needed to get the recall election on the ballot is not looking good for him. That’s in part due to a judge awarding the Republican-led recall effort an extension on the signature-collecting deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving it 280 days to amass 1.5 million signatures instead of the typical 160.
The new deadline is up Wednesday, but organizers say they already have more than enough signatures. State officials, however, still need to verify their validity.
Newsom also appeared on CNN Tuesday and said of the recall election that he’s “anticipating it goes on.” If it does, the state will hold an election later this year asking voters if they want to recall him, and if so, who they want to replace him. A handful of Republican challengers have already emerged.
The governor suffered a serious dip in popularity during the pandemic as recall supporters seized on to Californians’ frustrations with his COVID-19 safety measures, which shuttered schools, restaurants and other businesses during the worst throes of the coronavirus. The recall effort got a major boost when Newsom was photographed dining with a large group at a restaurant, earning him criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.
However, COVID-19 cases in the state have plummeted, vaccination rates are up and much of California has been able to reopen in recent weeks, so it’s unclear how motivated voters will be to unseat Newsom in a recall election later this year.
He’s also picked up some support from big names outside of California, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
“The Republican Party has found their latest cynical scheme to disrupt COVID recovery efforts and to rile up the Trump base by rallying around a campaign to recall Governor Newsom,” Warren said in a statement. “Rather than allowing Californians to focus on vaccinations, reopening, relief, and recovery, Republicans want to spend millions of taxpayer’s dollars to recall Governor Newsom in the middle of a national crisis.”