In a final bid to turn out their supporters ahead of Tuesday’s recall election, Gov. Gavin Newsom and his challengers on Monday kept up eye-popping campaign schedules as they zigzagged around California urging voters to fill out their ballots.
After holding anti-recall rallies in Oakland and Los Angeles over the weekend, Newsom was back in Sacramento Monday in his role as governor to meet President Joe Biden as he surveys wildfire damage and discusses the federal response to the fires ravaging the West. On Monday evening, Newsom was set to shift back into campaign mode, joining Biden at rally in Long Beach.
Biden is hitting the campaign trail for Newsom just days after Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned for Newsom in her native East Bay. Like Harris, Biden is expected to make the case that the recall effort is not isolated to California, but part of a broader attempt by Republicans to push back on the progressive agenda Democrats like Newsom have pushed in the Golden State and elsewhere.
Whether Biden’s visit in the last hours of the race will make a marked difference in Newsom’s favor remains to be seen. Every active registered voter in the state should have received a ballot in the mail in August. Already at least 35% of the state’s registered voters — more than 7.5 million people — have returned their ballots. And recent polling suggests that at least 60% of likely voters are expected to vote no on the recall, meaning Newsom is likely to keep his job.
The California swing, said longtime political analyst Dan Schnur, may actually help the president, who has taken a political hit recently for the botched withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, more than it helps Newsom.
“It matters more for Biden than Newsom,” Schnur said. “Biden needs a win and being part of a successful effort to beat the recall is something he benefits from being associated with.”
And, Schnur added, although Newsom is likely to defeat the recall, if he were to lose unexpectedly and Biden did not make the trip, some people would blame the White House for not doing enough to help.
As Newsom balances his official duties with a grueling campaign schedule, lead challenger Larry Elder, a conservative radio host, was making campaign stops across Southern California at a frenetic pace Monday. He was set to be joined at some stops by “VIP” supporters, including former California state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, a Democrat, and former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado.
At 10 a.m., Elder participated in the presentation of a medal to a Chinese-American World War II veteran in Monterey Park. At 12:30, he was set to make a stop at a deli in Los Angeles. Less than two hours later, he was scheduled to speak at a park and nature center in San Pedro, and later in the evening, Elder was hosting a volunteer rally in Costa Mesa.
In recent days, Elder — who has been hammering Newsom for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and vowing to get rid of vaccine and mask mandates if he becomes governor — has appeared with actor Rose McGowan, who has accused Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, of pressuring her to stop speaking out against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, allegations the Newsom camp has denied.
Elder has also previewed a Trumpian strategy that is likely to materialize should Newsom emerge victorious: suggesting without evidence that the election might be plagued with fraud and promising to file lawsuits and push for an investigation into the results.
Former President Donald Trump on Monday released a statement, baselessly claiming, “Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn’t rigged? Millions and millions of Mail-In Ballots will make this just another giant Election Scam, no different, but less blatant, than the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!”
Other candidates, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessman John Cox, who ran and lost against Newsom in 2018, took to TV and social media in a final push to turn out their supporters before polls close Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Pro- and anti-recall committees and organizations were also staging an all-out push to mobilize voters Monday, making last-minute phone calls, knocking on doors and sending texts to try to turn out people who might otherwise decide to sit out the election.
Many GOP voters, who overwhelmingly support the recall, have shunned voting by mail and said they plan to vote in person. But the group Political Data Inc., which is tracking recall votes, showed what company vice president Paul Mitchell dubbed “pretty lackluster” in-person voting totals for two major counties — Orange and Los Angeles. Whether there’s massive Republican turnout on Tuesday remains to be seen, but the party faces an uphill battle with Democrats outnumbering Republicans roughy two to one in the Golden State.
Check back for updates to this developing story.