Newsom spotlights ‘consequential decision’ over COVID in California recall election

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Accusations that California Gov. Gavin Newsom mishandled the Golden State’s response to the coronavirus, as the worst pandemic in a century swept across the country last year, was what sparked the effort to recall the state’s Democratic governor.

Now, with just under two weeks to go until the deadline for Californian voters hand in their ballots in the gubernatorial recall election, Newsom is hoping that his efforts to combat the coronavirus may save his save job, as he touts the state’s high vaccination rate and warns what may happen if he’s replaced by a conservative Republican in the governor’s office.

“MILESTONE: More than 80% of eligible Californians have at least one dose of the #COVID19 vaccine & we continue to lead the nation with 48M shots in arms. Now, we’re in a pandemic of the unvaccinated as they fill up hospitals & ICUs. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic,” the embattled governor’s office tweeted on Tuesday using their official Twitter account.

And at a news conference outside a health clinic in Oakland, Newscom compared California’s COVID rates to much higher ones in large states with conservative governors, such as Texas and Florida. 

Newsom also took aim at Larry Elder, the conservative talk radio host and the frontrunner among the 46 gubernatorial replacement candidates on the recall ballot according to many of the most recent polls, who has said he’d halt the state’s vaccine and mask requirements if elected.

“His model is Texas and Florida, and Mississippi,” Newsom charged. “We have among the lowest positivity rates in America. They have the highest positivity rates in America. We have one of the lowest case rates in America. They’re among the highest.”

Many of the other leading replacement candidates have all said while the don’t oppose vaccines, they would roll back Newsom’s statewide vaccine mandates for those working for the state, in health care, and at schools.

One of the other top contenders, businessman and 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Cox, in a recent debate spotlighted Florida’s more relaxed restrictions as a guide for he would do as California governor.

But Newsom argued that such moves would set California back in its battle to combat the coronavirus and emphasized that “there is no more consequential decision to the health and safety of the people, the state of California, than voting ‘no’ on this Republican recall.”

The recall push was launched in June of last year, fueled by the state’s COVID restrictions on businesses and houses of worship, school shutdowns and even opposition to the state’s high taxes. But the effort surged in the autumn after Newsom’s dinner at an uber-exclusive restaurant, which – at best – skirted rules imposed by the governor to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

State election officials two and a half weeks ago began mailing ballots to California’s 22 million registered voters, as the Republican replacement candidates on the ballot stepped up their attacks on the Democratic governor and Newsom kicked into high gear his efforts to encourage supporters to cast ballots. 

While Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans the heavily blue state of California, the latest public opinion polls suggesting that those likely to cast ballots in the contest are divided on whether to recall Newsom.

Newsom and his allies acknowledge that they need a strong turnout to counter Republican voters motivated to cast ballots in hopes of ousting the governor.

Voters are being asked two questions on the Newsom recall ballots. The first question is whether the governor should be removed from office. If more than 50% support removing Newsom, the second question offers a list of candidates running to replace the governor. If the governor is recalled, the candidate who wins the most votes on the second question – regardless of whether it’s a majority or just a small plurality – would succeed Newsom in steering California. 

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