Biden ‘clearly opposes’ effort to recall California governor Gavin Newsom

Campaign has amassed close to 1.5 million signatures

James Crump
Thursday 25 February 2021 14:39 GMT
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The White House has publicly declared that President Joe Biden is opposed to the effort to recall California governor Gavin Newsom.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki initially commented on the campaign during a press briefing on Tuesday, saying that she had “not spoken with the president about the recall”, but revealed that the administration is “closely engaged with [Newsom] and his office”.

However, in a follow-up tweet later in the day, Ms Psaki was more forceful, writing that President Biden “clearly opposes any effort to recall” the California governor.

“In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom,” Ms Psaki wrote.

Mr Newsom, a Democrat, has not responded to requests about whether his team reached out to the White House before the press secretary’s statement. The Independent has contacted his team for further comment.

The recall effort was sparked by the governor’s handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

Mr Newsom’s critics have argued that he kept schools shut for too long and was unclear on a vaccination strategy, as California has been badly affected by the pandemic.

He was also widely criticised for attending a dinner party with friends and lobbyists in November, at a time when he was urging residents to stay at home amid rising coronavirus cases.

The governor has seen his approval rating fall over the last year, as a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California released last week found that 54 per cent of the state's residents approve of Mr Newsom's job performance, compared to 65 per cent in May 2020.

California has recorded the most Covid-19 cases of any state in the US, with more than 3.4 million confirmed infections and at least 44,000 deaths.

At the time of writing, the recall campaign has collected close to the 1.5 million signatures needed to force a special election, as the organisers have raised around $3.4m (£2.4m).

San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, has announced that he we will run again Mr Newsom if a recall election is forced, and revealed that he will campaign for governor in the scheduled election next year if the effort fails.

The organisers of the recall campaign have until mid-March to submit the 1.5 million signatures in order to force Mr Newsom into an election.

Anne Dunsmore, campaign manager for one of the organisers Rescue California, told NBC News that 10 per cent of the signatures collected are from Democrats, while 20 per cent are from people with no party affiliation.

Reacting to Mr Psaki’s tweet on Tuesday, Ms Dunsmore told NBC: “They're calling in the big guns. That says a lot. It means game on.”

Democratic state senator Steve Glazer, who previously criticised Mr Newsom for re-opening the state too quickly, defended the governor in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday.

“I believe he has acted in good faith and with the best interests of Californians at heart. He has done nothing close to justify the recall campaign,” Mr Glazer said.

He then urged Californian residents to not sign the recall petition, describing it as a “distracting and destructive fool's errand.”

This article was amended on February 25, 2021. It previously said Steve Glazer had criticised Gavin Newsom for ‘implementing strict coronavirus measures’, but his criticism was for reopening too quickly.

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