Californians will vote on whether to recall Governor Newsom on September 14. He should not be recalled.
Despite polling that shows 57 percent of likely voters support Newsom, it would be a mistake to assume this election is over and sit it out. California is the only state in the union to have ever recalled a governor, replacing Gray Davis with a celebrity, Arnold Schwarzenegger.That recall should serve as an example that in our state anything can happen.
We are in the midst of a Delta variant surge, Los Angeles County again requiring everyone to wear face masks indoors, a very dangerous fire season, a drought emergency, reductions in water usage, and homelessness as an ever-present issue. Any combination of these issues could cause voter support to quickly shift.
Governor Newsom, a former lieutenant governor and mayor, is a serious seasoned politician equipped to deal with California’s 21st-century issues. He supports reducing greenhouse gas emissions; providing health care for everyone; negotiating cheaper drug prices for Medi-Cal; increasing tax credits for affordable housing development; strengthening tenant protections; ending private prisons; ending bail because it punishes poor people; banning high-capacity gun magazines and requiring background checks for purchasing ammunition; expanding early childhood education programs; limiting wildfire damage by removing dead trees, increasing funding for fire departments, and instituting early warning cameras and a state-wide weather monitoring system. If you favor these things, you should vote to keep him in office.
On the other hand the three major Republican challengers, John Cox, Kevin Faulkner, and Larry Elder have disqualified themselves as serious candidates for governor: one for relying on campaign stunts and lies, the other two for being Trump Republicans.
John Cox, a San Diego County businessman who lost to Governor Newsom in 2018, has campaigned with a 1,000-pound Kodiak bear, dragged an eight-foot ball of trash around the state, and lied about Governor Newsom releasing inmates from jail. He’d accused Governor Newsom of letting 76,000 inmates out of jail. “many of those [who] are going to commit other crimes … I want my daughter to feel safe.” However, no one was let out of prison. Newsom’s policy change made 76,000 inmates eligible for shorter sentences if they can demonstrate good behavior and, in some cases, complete rehabilitation programs.
Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, on the other hand, is a candidate with tax policy proposals that should be debated. He wants to end state income taxes on individuals making less than $50,000 and joint filers earning as much as $100,000, along with exempting military retirement income from state income taxes. However, he is the kind of right-wing candidate which would attempt to dismantle California’s progressive polices, replacing them with Trump like right-wing polices. He voted for Trump in 2020. He is a favorite of the Republican establishment including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He shares a political advisor with Texas Senator Ted Cruz who echoes Trump’s “Big Lie” of election fraud. In recent weeks, he’s been making the rounds of right-wing media including Ruthless and the Ben Shapiro podcast.
Larry Elder, a nationally syndicated right-wing radio talk show host, entered the race in response to homeless problems, rising crime rates and COVID lockdowns. He, like Faulconer, is a Trumpist. He supported Trump in 2020, called the Mueller Special Counsel investigation baseless, and characterized Trump’s impeachments as “standing on weak grounds.”
While it’s unfortunate that former President Donald Trump is part of the recall, his “presence” can’t be ignored. Californians rejected Trump by 30 points in 2020. Letting his views, polices, and approaches to government into the governor’s office would be disastrous.
All three candidates, however, have picked up on one issue that could dominate the recall election — homelessness. Cox dragged this issue into the election with his eight-foot ball of trash, which he says symbolizes the mess created by homelessness, and Newsom’s failure to “fix the problem.” According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), California has an estimated 161,548 homeless living on its streets. On July 19, Governor Newsome signed the largest funding and reform package for homelessness and housing in California history.
Part Two of this article will compare the three candidate’s approaches to homelessness.