How Gavin Newsom Got Himself in California Recall Hot Water

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Author: Shawn Hubler and Jennifer Medina
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

How Gavin Newsom Got Himself in California Recall Hot Water

The political targeting of Mr. Newsom comes as public schools have yet to fully reopen, leaving many children at home and many parents aggravated. Public school enrollment has dropped by more than 160,000 students, while the state has lost roughly 1.5 million jobs and unemployment remains at 8.3 percent, one of the highest rates in the country.

“There’s a lot of frustration and rising anger on a variety of issues — jobs are leaving, homelessness is rising, so many parents across the state are furious,” said Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego and a Republican candidate for governor, who has made the slow reopening of public schools a central theme of his case against Mr. Newsom. “I strongly believe that voters are looking for someone with common sense.”

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As a political force, Mr. Newsom has always been more inevitable than loved, a rich San Franciscan who has steadily climbed from political office to office and enjoyed long ties to Mr. Brown and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one in California, and Mr. Newsom easily won the open governor’s seat in 2018.

Democrats still have a narrow window to block the recall, by convincing enough voters who signed the petition to withdraw their support, but even Mr. Newsom’s aides have called that outcome unlikely. The Legislature’s joint budget committee will also have to sign off on a California Department of Finance report on the cost of the special election, which Mr. Newsom’s supporters estimate could be $ 100 million or more.

If those hurdles are cleared, as is widely expected, the recall would present Mr. Newsom with more political challenges and scrutiny than he has ever faced. Over the winter, the recall supporters were already capitalizing on his every move.

As schoolchildren struggled with online instruction, the supporters accused Mr. Newsom of coddling teachers’ unions. As small businesses withered, they pointed to Mr. Newsom’s success as a wine merchant. When Mr. Newsom implied that his own children were being schooled virtually and it turned out that their private school had actually resumed in-person classes, his critics heckled his daily livestreams, accusing him online of French Laundry-style elitism.

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