California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom's team is increasingly concerned over the latest recall effort against the governor, and they should be. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla notified organizers of the recall effort on Thursday that the group had crossed the 10 percent threshold of signatures required under state election code.
According to the recall group, county registrar recorder officials must now begin the process of hand verifying every petition collected. Proponents of the recall say they have collected more than 800,000 signatures of the 1.5 million necessary to trigger a special election. And organizers say signatures are pouring in following the governor's recent trip to the French Laundry and Newsom's efforts to lock down the state again.
While the governor has always been a divisive figure, Newsom has given his detractors plenty of ammunition in a year marked by deadly wildfires, administrative incompetence, a radical left-wing agenda, and brutal lockdown orders the governor seems to have a hard time following himself.
Newsom's outgoing chief of staff, Ann O'Leary, is reportedly on the shortlist for jobs in the Biden-Harris administration, according to POLITICO, and O'Leary's departure comes as the governor reaches his lowest point in office. A good time for O'Leary to bail. In an article detailing O'Leary's career, POLITICO reports that Newsom's team is increasingly worried about the recall effort (emphasis mine).
The governor suffered public rebuke after attending a lobbyist's dinner party at The French Laundry last month with multiple households, hampering his ability to discourage residents from gathering as infections were surging. At the same time, his administration has faced growing criticism for unemployment benefits fraud — including payments to inmates — and little progress on reopening schools.
... Besides the problems with unemployment payments and schools, the governor has faced increasing resistance from residents for his lockdown efforts in a bid to preserve hospital beds in California. Business owners and churchgoers have railed against Newsom, and some have said they do not intend to abide by his restrictions this winter.
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. Newsom must also ensure he is strong enough to win reelection in two years. The governor remains an odds-on favorite in a state where Democrats hold tremendous power, but the pandemic has already shown it can scramble loyalties and voter attitudes toward those in power.
O'Leary's departure comes as Newsom “needs friends, but what [administration officials] haven’t been able to develop are political friendships,’’ said longtime state political observer David McCuan, a professor of political science at Sonoma State. Instead, “they’ve fanned the flames against themselves with self-inflicted wounds."
When it comes to Newsom, there's something for everyone to hate. Those not incensed over the governor's "rules for thee but not for me" attitude can still fault the governor for the state's rolling blackouts, a deadly wildfire season exacerbated by Newsom's environmentalist buddies, the governor's decision to cut pay for firemen while handing out stimulus checks to illegal aliens, his signing of legislation removing automatic penalties for child sex offenders, and the list goes on and on.