Democratic Party leaders unite behind a message that the recall is a desperate Republican plot that is bad for California.
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It was the week that the campaign to defend Gov. Gavin Newsom against a recall election that could send him into early and involuntary retirement began in earnest. Naturally, it started with Zoom.
The stated purpose of the California Democratic Party’s online convention this weekend was to do the boring job of party politics: writing rules, passing resolutions, and electing new leaders or re-electing old ones.
But the weekend’s virtual meeting also served another obvious political purpose: to rally the often contentious party troops behind Newsom.
âYou could theoretically call it the kickoff of the anti-recall campaign, with Democrats circling the cars,â said Brian Brokaw, political consultant to the governor.
Newsom’s cheerleading was the loudest in the headline speeches on Friday. It was programming designed to remind Democrats of the people and ridings who support the governor. There were national party leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, both from California, and progressive heroes like the executive director of the Sunrise movement Varshini Prakash and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee d ‘Oakland.
âGavin’s proactive measures and leadership save lives,â said Lee. âThis is why Governor Newsom has my unequivocal support and why we are going and must defeat this right-wing recall.
The list of speakers also showed some of Newsom’s most politically notable achievements since taking office in 2019: Alex Padilla, first Latin American senator from California; Attorney General Rob Bonta, the state’s first Asian American cop; and Secretary of State Shirley Weber, the first black woman and person to hold the post. All three were nominated by Newsom.
Newsom himself, speaking late in the afternoon, spoke about his administration’s main achievements – skyrocketing vaccine numbers, low COVID infection rates, a stimulus spending program state – and warned that a successful recall would jeopardize all of those accomplishments.
“National Republicans and far-right wingers, they’re not sitting back, they’re putting all they can (in) their recall takeover, all in the hope of rolling back any progress. important things that we have achieved together, âNewsom said, echoing some of the rhetoric he used during his State of State address in March.
The 2021 California ruling party convention was, like the GOP confab earlier this year, everything was happening online – orations, caucuses and hobnobbing, with fewer opportunities for dissenting voices.
Democratic Party loyalists introduced five resolutions – ultimately folded into one – opposing Newsom’s removal effort, though no one called it “the California coup,” as did President Rusty Hicks in January, only to be forced to go back. This time, Hicks simply called the campaign “cynical ployFrom a Republican party that hasn’t been able to win a statewide regular election since 2006.
Ditto for former US Senator Barbara Boxer, who said the recall would plunge the state into the political “chaos” that she said characterized the Trump administration. And former party chairman, famed for his rudeness, John Burton, urged delegates to “give Republicans the message that they cannot be with us.”
Not everyone was on the same page. Pelosi spent most of his pre-recorded speech touting the early accomplishments and aspirations of the Biden administration and its Democratic caucus. She praised Newsom, but didn’t drop the R word. Neither Bonta nor Padilla, both of whom are due to run in 2022 to keep their new jobs.
This year’s convention was planned well in advance, but for Newsom the timing couldn’t have been better.
While the road to the now almost inevitable recall election is a long and torturous process, Monday marked a turning point when Weber’s office confirmed that the recall campaign had collected more than enough valid signatures to pose the question of Newsom’s political future on the ballot later this year.
Then came some timely replies for the benefit of the governor.
California’s Public Policy Institute released a poll on Wednesday evening, showing that a large majority of Californians approve of Newsom’s handling of the economy and reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was disheartening news for the recall leaders, who made the state’s stifled economy and closed schools the heart of their case against the governor.
The next day, Newsom traveled to the voice-rich San Fernando Valley. When his job security may depend on the support of small business owners and the state’s largest potential electoral bloc, Latinos, Newsom has found a well-publicized way to appeal to both. At a sushi bar owned by local restaurateur Cesar Garcia, the governor signed a bill giving $ 6.2 billion in tax relief to companies that had received the federal government rescue loans.
Although assembly Autumn Burke of Inglewood was the main author of the bill, the governor was instead joined by Arleta’s representative, Luz Rivas, who praised the bill – and the governor. – in Spanish. Likewise, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce president Maria Salinas.
Actor Danny Trejo, the star of “Machete”, was also there. Uninvited, he took the opportunity to detonate the recall effort: “This guy has been trying to save our lives since this – – this pandemic – started.”
The State Party convention began that day, Thursday, and continues throughout the weekend.
Garry South, a Democratic political strategist, pitted this weekend’s message of unity against the 2003 party convention in Sacramento he attended with his former boss, then governor. Gray Davis.
âThe governor spoke and, boy, it just didn’t feel right. There was a lot of growling about Davis, âSouth recalls. Seven months later, Davis was the first and only governor to be recalled.
This year is different. Then Davis’s approval numbers were in the tank. Now Newsom’s approval is over 50% – at least for now. Then Arnold Schwarzenegger was waiting backstage. This week Caitlyn Jenner announced that she is running, but so far no one with the star power and bipartisan appeal of âTerminatorâ is looking to drop Newsom.
In 2003, a fellow Democrat, then-Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante jumped in the race.
By lining up behind Newsom this weekend, Democrats appear to be doing everything in their power to discourage anyone in their ranks from pulling a Bustamante, South said.
“Newsom is doing at this convention, and the party is doing at this convention exactly what it needs to do, which is to make sure the party is unified behind it and that there is no margin maneuvering: you must beat the recall. “
But Newsom will have to do more than keep party activists on his side. In a race in which one party – pro-recall voters – is determined to kick off a vilified leader, Newsom must ensure that a sufficient number of his supporters are just as enthusiastic as enough to “get out.” and defend it, âsaid Christian Arana, vice president of policy at the Latino Community Foundation.
While the governor is worried about polls showing lukewarm support for Latinos, “there are ways for Newsom to campaign without campaigning,” Arana said. For example, allow undocumented immigrants 65 or older to enroll in Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income Californians.
Some progressive activists – who make up a significant portion of California Democratic Party delegates – believe Newsom could afford to do more to solidify their loyalty. Despite the promise to put in place a state-run health insurance program for all Californians, Newsom has not lifted a finger to help a bill that would have pushed the state in that direction before it went. block in committee two weeks ago.
Likewise, despite the 2018 campaign’s promise to ban hydraulic fracturing, Newsom only promised to ban the method of extracting oil in California by 2024 – an announcement that sparked a “meh” categorical on the part of many environmental activists.
Amar Shergill, chairman of the party’s Progressive Caucus, is not a reflective supporter of the state’s Democratic leadership.
âFor progressives, this is the worst of all worlds,â he said of the virtual convention. âYou’re there to watch speeches from people you’re not particularly in love with, but neither can you organize with your friends across the state.â
The invitation on the convention’s website to join Thursday’s Progressive Caucus meeting clarified that “flawless centrists and lackeys don’t need to be in attendance.”
But Shergill said his stance on the recall election was obvious.
âEven the most progressive Democrats who are uncomfortable with Gavin Newsom don’t want a Trump follower as governor, so we’re all going to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.
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