Skelton: Recall threat makes next few weeks crucial for Newsom

Timely vaccinations could mean life or death for Gov. Gavin Newsom politically.

Getting kids back to school soon also is essential for Newsom’s political health.

Reopening restaurants and other small businesses — those that have survived the pandemic, anyway — is likewise a must for the governor.

The next few weeks will be crucial for Newsom as he confronts a conservative-led attempt to recall him from office.

It’s a fantasy, you say, this notion of recalling a Democratic governor in a deep-blue state where the Republican Party is pathetically weak? Ordinarily, yes. But these are abnormal, astonishing times.

Who could have imagined a president so delusional he refuses to accept the voters’ verdict and graciously concede? And then he inspires crazed followers to storm the U.S. Capitol and halt the ritual of democracy?

Or that the GOP could recapture four U.S. House seats in California while voters here unequivocally reject President Trump in a landslide?

The recall effort would not have germinated without the pandemic. It sparked many people’s slow burn about the governor closing businesses, beaches, diners and churches and prompted a judge to extend the deadline for collecting signatures to qualify the recall for a possible fall ballot.

The judge ruled that the pandemic shutdown made it unfairly difficult to solicit the required 1.5 million voter signatures by the Nov. 17 deadline. So, he extended it 120 days until March 17.

If the deadline hadn’t been delayed, there wouldn’t have been time for recall backers to capitalize on Newsom’s blundering into the French Laundry on Nov. 6. And that’s what generated steam for the recall.

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The French Laundry is a very expensive, fancy restaurant in the Napa Valley wine country where Newsom attended a lobbyist friend’s birthday dinner with several other unmasked couples. It was the kind of potential virus exposure the governor had lectured Californians to avoid.

After news coverage of the event, Newsom apologized, but said it was held outdoors. Then leaked photos showed that the dinner was held largely inside.

After that, the recall signatures barreled in.

“We call it ‘the French Laundry surge,’” says Republican consultant Dave Gilliard, a recall strategist.

“It was just the arrogance of telling people what they have to do and then not following your own rules. People don’t like it when politicians don’t play by the same rules they’re told to. It was a huge mistake.”

This is how politically harmful the dinner party was: Within a month of it occurring, the recall effort collected and submitted 442,195 signatures, Target Book researchers reported Monday. During the previous five months, it gathered fewer than 60,000 signatures.

Former state Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro, who heads one of two recall committees, announced Tuesday that more than 1 million signatures had been collected. But there’ll need to be around 2 million to assure there are enough valid signatures.

Let’s face it, the vaccine rollout is agonizingly slow — not only in California, but across the nation. The president is mostly to blame. Newsom had one dinner at a prestigious restaurant; Trump has been playing golf practically every weekend at his Florida resort while …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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