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If California Gov. Gavin Newsom is recalled, he predicted the effects would be felt “all across the country” for “many, many years,” arguing Thursday in an interview with McClatchy’s California editorial boards that it could boost Republican chances in the 2022 midterms.
The Democratic governor, who faces a recall election Sept. 14, said he doesn’t think people are really considering the question of what happens if he loses.
“I don’t think the national Democratic Party’s asking themselves that question,” Newsom said during the interview with the editorial boards of The Sacramento Bee, The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee and The Tribune of San Luis Obispo. “If this was a successful recall, I think it would have profound consequences nationwide, and go to not just politics, but to policy and policymaking.”
A successful recall would spur a “weaponization” of the recall process and prompt more attempts to oust local elected officials, Newsom predicted.
He said it could give Republicans an advantage in the 2022 midterms, particularly given that the recall is happening in the home state of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. Newsom said he believes that could affect a wide range of policies, including on immigration, climate, health care and COVID-19.
Newsom has been considered a heavy favorite to beat the recall because of the liberal makeup of California’s electorate, where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two-to-one. But recent polling shows a dramatic enthusiasm gap between the parties, with Democrats less interested in voting than Republicans, who are fired up about the idea of ousting Newsom.
Newsom and his Democratic allies argue that’s really what’s motivating the recall effort — a chance for Republicans to install one of their own candidates during a special election when Democrats will be less likely to vote.
The original recall petition from February 2020 includes a long list of Newsom’s liberal policies as reasons to recall him even before the pandemic began. But the governor’s COVID-19 policies have further whipped up support among people upset about school closures and other restrictions.
During the wide-ranging, hour-long interview, Newsom vehemently defended his record on housing, homelessness and the environment. He pointed to the record-breaking funding he’s poured into housing and homelessness programs despite the pandemic.
On the environment, he said even California needs to do more to fight climate change, but argued the Golden State is leading the way under his leadership, pointing to billions of dollars in spending to boost electric vehicle use and reduce carbon emissions.
He said he’s particularly proud of the record-breaking education spending he negotiated with lawmakers this year in the budget, which implements a host of policies, including adding a new grade to California schools called transitional kindergarten and increases funding for summer school.
“If they kick me out. I’m gonna feel good about what we just did, and not ever regret a damn thing,” he said. “We put it all out there on this education budget.”
Newsom pointed out that people who don’t like him would have a chance to vote him out of office next year anyway at the end of his term. He said that despite California’s challenges, the state still leads the country in job creation and many other economic measures.
“I‘m a future ex-governor. It could happen in a few weeks, it could happen in a few years, but I love this damn state,” he said. “The California dream ... I think is still alive and well.”