When under the gun, being well-coiffed, Kennedy-esque, and a Democratic Party favorite for the Oval Office in a future America should confer a kind of professional Teflon coating on a politician. But Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is suddenly finding out the limits of his charmed life as reflected in a growing antipathy toward him and his leadership from California constituents – good looks and resumé be damned.
With a recent survey by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies showing a precipitous 20-point decline in support for the governor since September of 2020, and 1.4 million signatures already collected – of a necessary 1.5 million – with six weeks to go before the recall deadline, things just got real. Newsom’s public relations strategy has been to ignore any questions about the looming possibility of a recall by pivoting to discussions of the COVID vaccine rollout. But as Democratic Party consultant Andrew Acosta stated recently:
“I do think at some point he needs to open a recall committee. Start taking this s— seriously, and start going to war.”
Approximately 66% of those polled approved of Newsom’s efforts in the fall of last year. Now that number has shrunk to 46%, according to the Berkeley report. Newsom may not be able to plug his ears any longer and repeat the word “vaccine” loudly over and over with news like this.
Back in November, during the height of his draconian calls for pandemic lockdowns, business closures, and masking between bites of Thanksgiving dinner, Newsom punched himself in the face politically when he was photographed flouting all three of these edicts at a swank Napa Valley restaurant called French Laundry. Also present were a rogues’ gallery of other party members and political insiders for whom Newsom’s rules clearly did not apply. This base hypocrisy incensed Californians, and the stalled recall effort was Frankensteined back to life – with a vengeance.
No Sudden Moves?
Like so many on the lockstep left diligently following the “Joe Saves America!” inauguration playbook, Newsom has moved to suddenly end lockdowns and open schools after Trump had been calling for these measures since May of last year. Are there fewer COVID deaths in California now than when Trump was in office? No. There are far more, in fact, which is a stark reminder that the real reason for lockdown mandates perhaps wasn’t to protect citizens from a virus with a 99.74% recovery rate but to hurt Trump’s chances at re-election. But like the former president he adamantly opposed, Newsom is also now engaged in a 360-degree street fight as vested interests and constituencies all around encircle him.
The fear-addled teachers’ unions oppose opening schools until everyone, including school mascots and the science lab skeleton, are well and truly jabbed with the experimental COVID vaccine. This is despite the fact there is no proof of the vaccine’s ability to either stop transmission or help achieve herd immunity. The governor has had to reap what he’s sown with the sudden adversarialism of the educators’ collective he has always been able to rely on for full support. The harsh, science-free, and often unconstitutional measures he imposed in a frenzy of authoritarianism fomented such angst in Californians, it is little wonder teachers want their schools hermetically sealed before returning in HAZMAT suits. And meanwhile, children languishing in front of screens in remote learning for nearly a year is beginning to resemble some kind of systemic child abuse.
Another staunchly supportive demographic may also have reason to be piqued with the governor. He failed to appoint a black woman to replace Vice President Kamala Harris in the Senate when she departed, leaving the chamber without any black women at present. Newsom should cross his fingers these women don’t decide to send him a loud message if the recall initiative makes it to the ballot.
And his efforts to shore up a united front in his own party are even presenting roadblocks to the governor in a time of political tempest. Last year, the recall efforts among his party faithful were characterized as driven by the California Republican Party’s right-wing fringe. But Newsom’s whiplash maneuver to suddenly open businesses and schools blindsided even many of those pre-disposed toward him who questioned his rationale in doing so.
Under attack on all sides, look for Newsom to circle the wagons to the best of his ability. But shoring up support and changing the narrative are daunting prospects for a governor who is already holding his breath in the hope his political adversaries fail to collect the magic number of recall signatures before March 17.
Read more from Pennel Bird.