OPINION

California’s Recall Effort To Remove Elitist Governor Gavin Newsom.

Crime, homelessness, illegal immigration, and poverty are now hallmarks of the formerly Golden State.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is right where he deserves to be—on the hot seat. Voting has already begun for the September 14th recall, in which voters will have an opportunity to send Newsom home. He has overseen the state’s deep decline away from its once-coveted “Golden” status into a state where poverty, homelessness, crime, and illegal immigration now reign supreme. Californians are fleeing in droves. The California Department of Finance, which monitors the state’s population data, announced in December that population growth in California is at its slowest rate in more than a century. California voters have a lot to complain about.

[A]t the heart of this recall effort—is the elite Newsom’s holier-than-thou attitude…

Atop voters’ lists of Newsom’s infractions is the infamous French Laundry restaurant disgrace on November 6th, 2020, where an estimated 22 of the state’s high-and-mighty gathered to run up a $15,000 tab to sip vintage wine and dine on haute cuisine. Newsom initially told reporters the party was outside where the coronavirus is less likely to spread, but photos exposed by the press revealed a private dining room that “contradicted the spirit of the safety guidelines and precautions he has asked Californians to adhere to during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Meanwhile, California’s blue-collar class, those Newsom seems to regard as the great unwashed, but whose votes he needs, were reeling under the state’s unbending COVID-19 lockdown rules that cost millions their jobs and forced dozens of small, family-owned businesses to shut their doors for good. California’s largest urban areas are among the metro regions with the highest total permanent closure rates—San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and others. Newsom’s shutdown orders were strict and, at the same time, crazy, like his edict that banned in-church worshipers, but still managed to ignore the violent and crippling Black Lives Matter riots with no social distancing and few masks.

Perhaps more than any other issue, however—what’s at the heart of this recall effort—is the elite Newsom’s holier-than-thou attitude that has infuriated everyday citizens and made them determined to remove the haughty governor.

Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Gov. Gavin Newsom.

NEWSOM PROMOTES ‘CALIFORNIA DREAM’ AS POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS REACH CRISIS LEVELS

Under Newsom, California’s poverty and homelessness have reached critical levels. Using the California Poverty Measure, a metric that the Public Policy Institute of California created, nearly one in six, 16.4%, of Californians lived close to the poverty line. All told, more than a third (34%) of state residents were poor or near-poor in 2019. 4.6% of Californian families had less than half the resources needed to meet basic needs, the “deep poverty rate.” These rates no doubt increased in 2020 and this year with COVID-19.

Newsom incredibly extended an invitation for more homeless last month.

That rising rate of poverty has no doubt contributed to California’s crisis around homelessness. California has the nation’s highest homeless population, with 161,548 people living on the streets in January 2020, 28% of the nation’s total homeless population. Among those who are homeless, California also accounts for more than half of all unsheltered people in the country, 51%. A California state auditor report from February 2021 slammed Newsom for his disjointed approach to tackling homelessness.

[T]he state has the largest homeless population in the nation, but its approach to addressing homelessness is disjointed. At least nine state agencies administer and oversee 41 different programs that provide funding to mitigate homelessness, yet no single entity oversees the state’s efforts or is responsible for developing a statewide strategic plan … the state continues to lack a comprehensive understanding of its spending to address homelessness, the specific services the programs provide, or the individuals who receive those services.

Nevertheless, Newsom incredibly extended an invitation for more homeless last month. He said that anyone who wants to take advantage of the California dream is welcome and will be taken care of. “I’m proud of people from around the world looking at California again for opportunity, and that, again, that should not just be for certain people,” said Newsom. “All people should aspire to that California dream regardless of their income level and regarding their lot in life.”

That invitation extends beyond the homeless to illegal aliens. Newsom continues to embrace Sanctuary State California, the criminal-friendly policy that his predecessor Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2017. As a sanctuary state, California does not allow state and local law enforcement to hold illegal aliens on federal immigration detainers and overall limits cooperation between state/local and federal agency levels. Essentially it offers a welcome mat to those who have broken U.S. laws by entering the country illegally.

With an unlawful sanctuary status conferred, California protects dangerous felons and disregards citizens’ safety.

A sanctuary California, with other liberalized laws, has created a wild-west-like atmosphere in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and—right under Newsom’s nose—in Sacramento. Sacramento’s crime spike is so acute that shoplifting increases to the tune of $15,000 a month forced a family-owned Christmas store to shut its doors. As California Assemblyman Jim Cooper explained, the current state law (Proposition 47) requires suspects to be convicted three times for shoplifting $950 or more to face jail time. Cooper explained: “You can go in and do it [shoplift] 20 times a day, and as long as you stay below that $950 threshold, you’re not going to go to jail, you may get a citation at best.” Passed in 2014, Newsom, then Lt. Governor, supported the bill. Even with the devastating effects of Proposition 47, Newsom has made no move to propose changes to recriminalize crime.

With an unlawful sanctuary status conferred, California protects dangerous felons and disregards citizens’ safety. In a recent example: San Francisco repeatedly refused to cooperate with ICE and released 22-year-old Carlos Claros, an illegal immigrant with an extensive criminal history, after each effort that Immigration and Customs Enforcement made to put him where he belongs—in jail. ICE issued several detainers for Claros on charges that included firearms possession by a felon, making criminal threats, and resisting arrest, but nevertheless San Francisco authorities released him. The Washington Times reported that:

ICE placed its first detainer in October 2018 after Claros was convicted of battery and receiving stolen property, ‘but due to local sanctuary laws, the detainer was not honored,’ the agency told The Times. More detainers followed arrests or convictions in December 2018, February 2019, and April 2020. Each time San Francisco again declined to honor the fellow law enforcement agency’s request.

Free to continue his life of crime and violence, Claros and his two ne’er-do-well associates tried to rob at gunpoint an Asian-American family visiting Fisherman’s Wharf. Before escaping, Claros spat at the family and said, “Ugh, you Asians,” a hate crime.

San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city” predates the state of California embracing the sanctuary concept. Newsom’s support goes back to his days as Mayor of San Francisco when he justified making San Francisco a sanctuary city out of safety concerns. His argument was that illegal aliens would not come forward to report crimes or testify as witnesses for fear of deportation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Gov. Gavin Newsom.

THE SAGE FROM SOUTH CENTRAL MAY BE THE CANDIDATE TO TAKE DOWN NEWSOM

Not so long ago, massive loss of jobs, widespread business closings, skyrocketing homelessness, rampant poverty, and runaway crime would, figuratively speaking, get the California governor run out of Dodge on the first stagecoach. But, despite his awful record, Newsom isn’t getting bounced out of Sacramento—at least not yet.

California voters are, The Washington Post reports, angry and motivated to vote.

Even the liberal media thinks Republicans may have a fighting chance. California voters are, The Washington Post reports, angry and motivated to vote. The University of California Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that 47% of likely voters favor recall, and just 50% support Newsom, a potential victory margin so slim it falls within the poll’s margin of error. For recall proponents in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 2:1, Berkeley’s findings are encouraging. Since 1913, California has had 179 recall attempts—11 of the 179, including the 2003 election that put actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in office, gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

But the Post also reported that Newsom has a $40 million bankroll, more than double the amount his challengers, combined, have collected. And Newsom is spreading California taxpayer dollars among the common folk he disdains, but whose votes he needs—$4 billion for small-business relief, additional investments to phase in 200,000 child-care slots, with preschool and child-care providers getting raises, and an eviction moratorium extension, plus money for needy renters.

Much has been written about the GOP challengers’ lack of name recognition. Those critics have discounted the reality that while voters recognize Newsom, his name generates bad vibes. Still, two of the most likely to face off against Newsom among the more than 40 candidates who have thrown their hats into the recall ring are, to the governor’s chagrin, extremely recognizable.

First up, Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, 1976 Olympic Gold Medal winner, and a Wheaties “Breakfast of Champions” star. Pluses: well-known among sports fans, television viewers, and moviegoers. Jenner played a prominent role in the popular television series, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and California voters love film and TV personalities: Schwarzenegger, Governor and President Ronald Reagan, Carmel-by-the-Sea Mayor Clint Eastwood, U.S. Reps. Sonny Bono, two-time Olympic gold medalist Bob Mathias, Will Rogers Jr, Helen Gahagan Douglas, and U.S. Senator and former song-and-dance man George Murphy. Jenner will do well among LGBTQ and celebrity worshipers. Minuses: Jenner said she would support President Trump if he ran in 2024. (In California, a Trump endorsement is the kiss of death.) Also, she didn’t vote in 2020, and hasn’t delivered a forceful, focused mission statement.

Elder is addressing the state’s incensed parents whose children the California Teachers Union held hostage during the pandemic.

On the other hand, talk show host Larry Elder, a Brown University, BA, and University of Michigan, JD, does have a message to fix failing schools, address power issues, tackle violent crime, better manage state resources to curb wildfires, and find solutions to the other challenges facing the state, including homelessness, businesses leaving the state and the rising cost of living.

Elder is addressing the state’s incensed parents whose children the California Teachers Union held hostage during the pandemic. Even as students fell further behind, the union refused to reopen exclusive in-person teaching; snobbish Newsom sends his kids to private school. Elder wants voters to know that 75% of black children cannot read at state-level proficiency, a scandal that the Department of Education keeps hidden. The poisonous teachers’ union is Newsom’s biggest financial supporter in this recall. In exchange for what was essentially a year’s paid vacation for teachers, the union donated $2 million to Newsom’s campaign coffers. Elder’s pluses: strong platform, widespread appeal, and an eloquent, engaging candidate. Minuses: like Jenner, Elder is a Trump fan and politically inexperienced—a minus that ironically may ultimately work in Elder’s favor among voters who are disgusted with self-serving, inept professional politicians.

Las Vegas’ wise guys have weighed in on the recall, and established Newsom as a prohibitive 1/15, 93%, favorite to survive. For the wagering public, especially attuned Californians, the long odds look inviting. The recall represents a chance for trampled-on Californians to send the message Howard Beale made famous in the 1976 movie “Network”: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

The recall election is on September 14th. Every registered voter will be sent a ballot in the mail. In-person polling sites open September 4th. More information is available at Cal Matters.

Written By:

Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Joe Guzzardi writes about immigration and related social issues. Joe joined @PFIRorg in 2018 as an analyst after a ten-year career directing media relations for Californians for Population Stabilization, where he also was a Senior Writing Fellow. A native Californian, Joe now lives in Pennsylvania. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.