Those behind the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom say they have the required number of signatures needed to move forward with a special election for the position.
Organizers claim they have 1.95 million signatures — more than the 1,495,709 that are required. Election officials will verify the signatures, and if the number of signatures meets the threshold and it is approved by the Secretary of State, the vote will be on the ballot.
Eleni Kounalakis, the Lieutenant Governor of California, told Inside the Issues that the “unusual” recall process is determined by the Constitution. She added that she has hopes the recall does not qualify to move forward.
“I think that, you know, for those of us who have worked with the governor during COVID-19, this extraordinary crisis, what we see, what I see, is a governor who has worked his level-best, day and night, 24/7, to have a response that will keep Californians safe and keep a heartbeat in our economy,” said Kounalakis. “This has been a very, very difficult time, and I truly believe that the governor has done his best for our people and that, all things considered, he's done a very good job.”
Kounalakis explained how Republicans behind the effort have capitalized on the challenges Newsom has faced during the pandemic.
“These are the same people who were trying to get Donald Trump reelected, and Donald Trump was sending a message, 'Don’t wear a mask. It’s a hoax. It's all going to be over. Shoot detergent into your veins.' I mean, just crazy stuff,” she said. “So we really have to draw the lens back a little bit here. Gov. Newsom was the first governor in the United States to issue a stay-at-home order. Very difficult thing to do. Doubtless, saved tens of thousands of lives. The PPE, remember that? When everyone was out there trying to buy masks, buy this protective equipment. And by the way, that should have been provided by the federal government to the states. Instead, Trump says, 'You're on your own. Go do it yourself.' So the governor, and I was part of this effort, because it was a whole hands-on-deck effort to work with suppliers to be able to get the supplies and the protective gear to our healthcare workers we needed. We were refurbishing ventilators, doing everything possible to keep our people safe and everything possible to help businesses to continue to keep a heartbeat as much as possible.”
Kounalakis is elected independently from the governor and doesn’t work for him, but noted that she has worked very closely with him and his team during the pandemic.
“I think, at the end of the day, you know, we just elected Gavin Newsom two years ago with an overwhelming majority. He really, in my view, has a right to a four-year term to do his job during this difficult time, and the Republicans see an opportunity to find opportunities within this pandemic to disparage him and to create this kind of chaos,” she said. “I think it's very unfortunate, but if we have to fight a recall, many of us who have seen up close the efforts of the governor to navigate our state through this pandemic, will be there to support him and defend his leadership.”
If the recall makes it on the ballot, Kounalakis added that we won’t see her name on the ticket to replace him.
“I will not put my name on a recall ballot that's driven by the Republican party to unfairly demonize Gov. Newsom,” she said. “I am for stability and good leadership. We have that in Gavin Newsom, and I hope that the voters will see through what this is and allow the governor to regain — well, keep his focus — on getting Californians vaccinated, on kids back to school, and to get the California economy humming again.”
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