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California governor launches campaign to stop recall effort against him

A new website launched by Newsom, a Democrat, to combat the recall effort seeks donations and support and is accompanied by a 30-second ad that calls the effort a “power grab.” The spot blames “violent White supremacists like the Proud Boys, who attacked our nation’s Capitol on January 6” for the push that threatens Newsom’s political future.
The effort to recall Newsom began last year, fueled by anger over the restrictions he had put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus in California, but it gained steam as prominent state Republicans threw their weight behind both the organizing and fundraising efforts. Recall proponents have gained momentum in recent weeks, with leaders of the campaign gathering more than a million signatures last month.

Nearly 1.5 million verified signatures are required to put the question of recalling Newsom on the ballot, and Wednesday marks the deadline for turning in the necessary signatures. As of Monday, all indications pointed to Newsom’s opponents reaching that goal.

The governor defended his pandemic-related decisions on behalf of California’s 40 million residents during his state of the state speech last week, insisting that science has been behind his critical choices made during the year-long pandemic.

“We agonized about the sacrifices it would require,” he said of implementing the nation’s first stay-at-home order last year. “We made sure that science — not politics — drove our decisions.”

On Monday, Newsom tweeted that he “won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall — but I will fight it. There is too much at stake.”

The newly launched counter attack boasts big names supporting Newsom, including Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Alex Padilla of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, as well as Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont. California Reps. Katie Porter and Ro Khanna, both Democrats, also support the effort, as does voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams of Georgia.

“The same Republicans who refused to hold Donald Trump accountable for the deadly insurrection of January 6th are now trying to hold Governor Newsom accountable for the failures of Donald Trump,” Padilla said in a statement.

He slammed the recall effort in a statement as “partisan, reckless, dangerous, and will only serve to distract from the critical work of seeing our state through the pandemic and into economic recovery.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said President Joe Biden is against efforts to unseat Newsom.

The California Democratic Party has contributed $250,000 toward Newsom’s pushback effort, while the Republican National Committee contributed the same amount toward making the recall happen.

If the recall effort qualifies, it is unclear what month it would land on California’s ballot, because there are a series of bureaucratic steps that must take place at various levels of state government before the state’s lieutenant governor could formally call the recall election.

In a recall election in California, the governor is removed by a simple majority of votes.

Amid the furor, Newsom on Monday committed to nominating a Black woman to the Senate should Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California decide to retire from Congress, telling MSNBC he has “multiple names in mind.”
His comments followed a pledge from Black leaders in the state, including Democratic Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, to organize Black voters to oppose the recall if it makes it onto the ballot, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Feinstein, the oldest US senator at 87 years old, has no announced plans to retire, but she faced questions about her ability to do her job over her handling of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett last year. She defended her service in comments to CNN’s Manu Raju, but did not commit to serving out her full term, which expires in 2025.
Newsom was under intense pressure within California to choose a Black woman to replace Vice President Kamala Harris’ seat in the Senate. He ultimately appointed Padilla to fill Harris’ seat, choosing the first Latino in state history for the role. There are no Black women serving in the Senate after Harris was sworn in as vice president.

This story has been updated with additional background information and reaction.

CNN’s Devan Cole and Maeve Reston contributed to this report.

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