California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a likely recall election this year, thanks in large part to his pandemic lockdown and hypocritical behavior — most notably his infamous decision to head out to the French Laundry restaurant while telling Californians to stay home and not socialize.
Newsom has responded to the recall movement with derision, ripping it as a "partisan, Republican recall" being pushed by "extremists."
But one man who has seen the Golden State recall process up close — former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — is warning him not to fall for the lie that this is merely some GOP "power grab" and not a real campaign by "ordinary people."
Embattled Gov. Newsom has assured supporters that he's going to fight the recall and made it clear where he thinks it's coming from.
"I am not going to take this recall attempt lying down," he declared in a March political campaign email. "And let's call it what it is: it's a partisan, Republican recall — backed by the [Republican National Committee], anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic."
But the Governator has a warning for Newsom: This actually looks a lot like the groundswell recall movement he saw 18 years ago.
Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood megastar who was elected governor of California following the successful recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 after a statewide energy crisis, told Politico in an interview posted Wednesday that he sees a lot of similarities between the recall that ushered him into office and today's recall efforts.
"It's pretty much the same atmosphere today as it was then. There was dissatisfaction, to the highest level [in political leadership]," he told the outlet, adding, "It's the same vibe."
The action star pointed out Newsom's COVID hypocrisy as the last straw while "people are making sacrifices every day" as they "go through this [pandemic] challenge."
"And it's the same with the momentum. Something that sets it off to a higher level, kind of the straw that breaks the camel's back ... like an explosion," he said. "In Newsom's case, it was the French Laundry thing. With us, it was the power outages in 2003."
As for claims that this is a "Republican recall," Schwarzenegger doesn't buy it: These are "ordinary people" getting this done.
"The Republican Party is, like I have said, dying at the box office," he told Politico. "This is the crazy thing here, when they say it's a 'power grab' of the Republicans. Let me tell you, the [California] Republicans couldn't even get anyone elected. It's ludicrous — the Republican Party doesn't exist. These are the signatures of the ordinary folks that have signed on."
"The Democrats are going to come in and they say, 'It's a power grab,' which of course I heard a million times in 2003," he continued. "It had nothing to do then — and it has nothing to do today — with either party. People are dissatisfied. [The recall is] the people's way of kind of letting off some steam."
Will the recall happen?
Organizers of the recall turned in 2.1 million petition signatures earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Election officials are checking to see if organizers garnered the 1.5 million valid ones necessary to get the recall on the ballot.
Both proponents and opponents of the recall effort assume the recall will be certified, with an election likely to happen in October at the earliest.
Recent poll numbers from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California show good numbers for Newsom so far, the Chronicle said Tuesday. Some 56% of likely voters oppose removing Newsom, while just 40% back the recall — including just 42% of independents.