California Democrat Gov. Newsom's fiasco over dinner party during pandemic ignites recall effort

An order issued last week by a Sacramento Superior Court judge gives recall proponents until March 17 to gather recall signatures.

Updated: November 24, 2020 - 9:14am

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California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom recently attending a dinner party at an expensive French restaurant while tightening health-safety restrictions during a spike in coronavirus cases has reignited talks of a recall effort.

His attendance at the Nov. 6 event at the French Laundry in California wine country is just part of what has renewed the recall talks. 

Newsom at first denied that the event, a birthday party for a lobbyist, was held indoors. And the millionaire businessman has faced criticism for sending his children to a private school that is holding in-person classes as students in many public school systems must learn remotely.

Conservative activists in response last week won a 120-day court extension to continue gathering recall signatures, according to Politico.

California Republicans in 2003 backed such an effort that led to the recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming governor.

Tom Del Beccaro, chairman of the RescueCalifornia.org, told Politico that he hopes the recent court ruling will be a “game changer” in the drive to oust Newsom.

A recall drive in California is largely a long-shot bid, considering Democrats have a 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in voter registration, and Newsom’s approval rating has been as high as 60% amid the roughly eight-month pandemic.

However, the dinner party and the newly imposed curfew and restrictions on businesses appear to have eroded some of Newsom’s support. 

“We haven’t had school since March ... I’m juggling things together, my husband just took on a third job,’’ Andrea Hedstrom, a 45-year-old mother who described herself as a lifelong Democrat before volunteering to work on the recall drive this year, told Politico. "And Gavin Newsom has continued to keep his kids in tuition-based schools. And I see them here in Sacramento playing with nannies and dog walkers."

The order issued last week by a Sacramento Superior Court judge gives recall proponents – which include some leading GOP donors, activists and elected officials – until March 17 to gather signatures. In issuing the order, the judge acknowledged that organizers’ efforts were limited by the pandemic.

Still, organizers would need to raise millions of dollars for such a campaign and collect roughly 1.5 million valid signatures.