The California Recall: More Broken Than You Think

8 mins read

A few weeks ago I read that California was mandating masks for all public school students in the state, regardless of vaccination status. My heart sank.

Then a few days ago I read that seven San Francisco Bay Area counties would be mandating masks for all public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Again, my heart sank.

Because I understood that renewed masking in California — no matter if it helped protect people’s lives — would only play into the Recall Newsom talking points and add more fodder to the Republican zeal to recall the governor and replace him with one more friendly to their causes. I’ve seen members of the other side. And it’s not pretty. 

Last fall, I got involved in efforts to reopen the public schools (for more on the pains suffered in California, read my earlier article), becoming active both locally in person and on a state level via Facebook groups. And that’s where my eyes were opened in new and remarkably unpleasant ways. Antiscience conspiracies. Check. Comparisons of Gov. Gavin Newsom to Hitler. Check. False allegations of a grotesque variety against the president. Check. (I won’t go into details but suffice to say, even the administrator of a Facebook group rushed to take that meme down.)

These are certainly not the only people supporting the recall, but if they represent even a slice of the anti-Newsom base, God help us should the recall succeed. (My colleague, Mindy Schwartz, wrote a piece providing pertinent and illustrative details about some of the Californians who would like to take over in the governor’s office. For a refresher on that, read here.) 

Some additional candidates have since emerged. State assemblymember Kevin Kiley, a fan favorite among the reopen schools crowd (many of whom also rail against the public education system under the more innocuous rubric of “school choice”), spreads disinformation like this: 

However, for the upcoming school year, all California kids will either be in school the usual number of hours or learn through independent study. The only substantive difference between Kiley’s stance and Newsom’s stance is mask wearing, a mandate stemming from the California Department of Public Health in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite Kiley’s claims about the dire straits of the state, conservative talk show host Larry Elder currently leads the pack of governor wannabes. (Elder, by the way, has Rudy Guiliani’s wholehearted endorsement.) Elder points to Newsom’s handling of the pandemic as proof that the governor is “ignoring science” and says of the state, “Let’s make it great again.” He also supports policies like overturning Roe v. Wade, ending welfare, abolishing the minimum wage, and eliminating gun-free zones in schools. Talk about California values. 

Kevin Faulconer, a former mayor of San Diego, might seem carved from the mold of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzanegger (who ousted Gov. Gray Davis in 2003’s recall). He, too, is a fiscal conservative who holds socially liberal positions, but he also vacillates in his distance from Trump; declaring in 2016 that he would never vote for Trump, then declaring in 2020 that Trump was the “clear choice” in the presidential election. Faulconer recently declined to state whether he even wanted Trump’s endorsement. 

Newsom’s team has started to point out the pro-Republican, pro-Trump nature of the recallers. (In fact, Caitlyn Jenner’s campaign is in debt after large outlays paid to operatives and fundraisers of Trump World.) And, according to the Los Angeles Times, those pushing the recall are also “…peddlers of QAnon doomsday conspiracies, ‘patriots’ readying for battle, and one organization allied with the far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys.”

If this doesn’t scare you enough to vote “no” on your ballot — which will be mailed to you by August 16 — I don’t know what will.

But, wait, something isn’t sitting right. We Democrats like to focus on the positive, not the negative campaigning. I completely agree. So if your fear of who might replace Newsom is not enough to make you run for the polls, let’s take a few minutes to recall all the good that our governor has done during his time in office.

  • Increased funding for schools in low-income communities and for special education.
  • Pushed the largest budget in any state’s history, including $100 billion in initiatives targeting poverty, housing, debt relief, broadband, and education.
  • Extended an eviction moratorium through Sept. 30.
  • Expanded early childhood education.
  • Banned future fracking.
  • Set ambitious goals to end use of fossil fuels.
  • Boosted Obamacare subsidies and expanded Medi-Cal for undocumented residents.
  • Expanded clean energy.
  • Proposed using some of California’s budget surplus to send cash directly to low-income residents.
  • Issued the most executive orders of any state governor in response to the pandemic, including suspending evictions, extending tax deadlines, and sending every voter a ballot in the mail. 

(For a more comprehensive discussion of Newsom’s accomplishments and where he can still lead the state, read this resource from CalMatters.)

And if the good and the bad aren’t enough to convince you to pay attention and vote “no” (and while you’re at, remind your neighbor to vote too), how about the very real risk of a Republican California governor shifting the balance of power in the U.S. Senate? 

Election Day is September 14
Voter registration deadline is August 30
How to stop the recall: Vote NO on Question 1
Every registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail

Additional resources on the recall from DemCast:

Or just check out our CA Republican Recall section for more!

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Rena Korb is a professional writer and editor. Her publications span from children’s books to political commentary. She volunteers as a DemCast California captain and as a leader with her local Indivisible chapter. She also is a lifelong activist, attending her first protest when she was 16. She lives in San Mateo with her family and, in non-pandemic times, enjoys playing Ultimate frisbee.

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