Forget red or blue, Gavin Newsom recall organizer says effort is a ‘citizen tide’

Support grows for recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Fox News national correspondent William La Jeunesse has the latest from Los Angeles on ‘Bill Hemmer Reports’

An organizer of a campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom attributes the effort’s momentum not to any blue or red tide, but a “citizen tide” long in the making.

Anne Dunsmore, the campaign manager and finance director of Rescue California 2021 told Fox News on Tuesday that the recall effort is the culmination of many missteps made by the Democratic governor in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  

“Closing the beaches and closing the parks really was the beginning that I saw on the ground of the beginning of the end for him, as far as people taking the recall stuff seriously,” Dunsmore told Fox News. 

FILE – In this June 26, 2020, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens to a reporter’s question during a news conference in Rancho Cordova, Calif. 

Newsom received high praise for his aggressive approach to the coronavirus last spring, when he issued the nation's first statewide stay-at-home order. But the public grew weary over subsequent health orders that have shuttered schools and businesses and a massive unemployment benefits fraud scandal.

Dunsmore said that things came to a head with the governor’s ill-advised dinner at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, an establishment that features a white truffle and caviar dinner for $1,200 per person. 

Photos of the dinner — a birthday party for a Newsom confidante who also is a lobbyist — emerged showing the governor without a mask at a time when he was imploring people not to socialize with friends and wear a face covering when going out and around others.

“I think it came to a head with the French Laundry. And that misstep on his part, made everybody more aware and more upset about the things that he had already done that were way off like the random closures, the random rolling blackouts … the extreme nature of some of the bills that he was signing, and the constant pulling over to the far-left,” Dunsmore said.

She noted that the “rising tide of upset” Californians goes far back.

“Is that red tide or a blue tide? No, that’s a citizen tide,” she said.  

Harmeet Dhillon, co-chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association, similarly argued that the governor’s hypocrisy has fueled a general discontent in California that has allowed the recall effort to gain momentum.

“I think with a full three months plus left to go and with people all over California in both parties being vary angry at the governor, particularly with his hypocrisy, particular with the fact that his children get to get educated and everybody else’s largely do not in most urban areas, these are the things that are fueling discontent here in California,” Dhillon said. “The hypocrisy of allowing lobbyists secured exemptions –  like film crews get to operate, but restaurants don’t get to operate — these types of inequities are really fueling the energy behind this grassroots movement.”

Dhillon said she would have shrugged at any kind of a recall campaign before 2020, but her views on Gov. Newsom have “radically changed.”

“I think he’s done everything wrong during COVID, with very few exceptions,” Dhillon said. “And his hypocrisy is really beginning to grate on people. So that’s good enough for me.”

Dhillon said that the momentum of the recall effort had less do with a changing of the tide and more to do with Newsom himself, noting that no serious effort was made to recall his predecessors, Govs. Jerry Brown or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“The fact that 800,000 Californians think … Gavin’s bad enough to do this, and donors are putting money behind it means it’s a different situation,” Dhillon said. “And were it not for COVID, he probably wouldn’t be facing this. But I think he has terribly misjudged and mismanaged the COVID situation.”

Recall organizers say they have collected more than half the nearly 1.5 million petition signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot, and they have until mid-March to hit the required threshold.

State records show just under 300,000 signatures have been filed, but according to Randy Economy, a senior adviser to the recall effort, another 500,000 are in the pipeline with county election officials.

The group began gathering signatures in June and have about three months to hit the required 1,495,709 signatures. They will need a surplus since some signatures are sure to be disqualified.

California has been down this road before. In 2003, only a few months into his second term as governor, Gray Davis was recalled.

He lost the recall vote on October 7, 2003, becoming the second state chief executive to be recalled. The first was Lynn Frazier of North Dakota in 1921.

Davis was succeeded iby actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won the recall replacement election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

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