Gov. Newsom recall proponents gather more than a million signatures

By Maeve Reston | CNN

Leaders of the campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom have now gathered more than a million signatures, according to a new report from the California secretary of state’s office that suggests the effort is still on track as they inch toward a March deadline to qualify for the ballot.

Capitalizing on the frustration and anger among California Republicans and small business owners about Newsom’s restrictive stay-at-home orders last year, which were intended to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, as well as the high case numbers that the state experienced over the holiday months, recall proponents say they have actually gathered 1.7 million signatures so far and are continuing to turn those in to the county registrars around the state for verification.

The most recent report from the secretary of state is a lagging indicator of the progress toward ballot qualification, because it only tallies signatures that California counties had received as of February 5. And of those nearly 1.1 million signatures, the counties have only verified a portion so far.

The report shows that of the 798,310 signatures verified, nearly 84% were valid. Longtime recall observers in California say that high percentage is a strong indicator that the recall will ultimately qualify for the ballot if recall proponents stay on track with that validation percentage as they turn in additional signatures. Under the California Constitution, the leaders of the recall must turn in 1,495,709 valid signatures by March 17, which is equivalent to 12% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

If the recall effort qualifies, it is unclear what month it would land on California’s ballot, because there are a series of bureaucratic steps that must take place at various levels of state government before the state’s lieutenant governor could formally call the recall election.

CNN has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.

Newsom, a Democrat, has largely brushed off the threat of a recall as he has traveled around the state in recent days visiting vaccination sites and trying to speed up the efficiency of the state’s vaccination program after it initially got off to a shaky start. Two community vaccination sites were opened in partnership with the Biden administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Oakland and Los Angeles last week, creating greater access to shots in some of the state’s most vulnerable communities — a partnership Newsom hailed as a critical expansion of California’s vaccine supply.

During a visit to a mobile vaccination site in Inglewood Sunday, Newsom highlighted the fact that Covid-19 hospitalizations are down by 41% in California in the past two weeks and said the state is building out a system that could allow them to administer 4 million vaccinations a week.

“Our only constraint now in terms of more vaccines into the community — meeting people where they are, where we are here in Inglewood and elsewhere — is supply limitations,” Newsom said, noting that some 702,000 doses were affected by the extreme weather last week.

Responding to the frustration about the inability to reopen many schools in California — a central theme of the recall — Newsom recently announced that 10% of the first-dose vaccine shipments allocated to California will be made available to teachers — setting a goal of providing more than 300,000 doses to educators over the next month.

But Newsom is also still taking heat from some teachers’ groups for stating during an interview with the Association of California School Administrators last month that “if we wait for the perfect, we might as well just pack it up and just be honest with folks — that we’re not going to open for in-person instruction this school year.”

“There’s an old thing my mom taught me that says, ‘You find whatever you look for,’” Newsom said during the January meeting. “So if we want to find reasons not to open, we’ll find plenty of reasons. If we want to start building on ways to strategize to find ways of getting to where we all want to go, we’ll figure that out as well.”

He added that he has witnessed first-hand how Zoom classes are not working well for younger students, including his 4-year-old son, as well as for children who are homeless, in foster care, English learners or those struggling with disabilities.

President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten responded to Newsom’s comments about finding “reasons not to open” Sunday morning during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” by suggesting that Newsom was not doing enough to prioritize teachers in the areas where viral transmission is the highest in California, referencing the state’s color-coded system.

“When I hear politicians — when I hear Governor Newsom saying we are always going to find a way out, well, why is he not actually prioritizing the teachers in LA,” she said, noting they were in “purple zones,” or the areas of highest viral transmission.

“If the NFL could figure out how to do this in terms of testing and protocols, if the schools are that important, let’s do it, and my members want it,” she said.

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Coronavirus: Gov. Newsom and family quarantine after exposure, all test negative

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family are quarantining after three of his children were exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said late Sunday.

Newsom, his wife and four children all tested negative for the virus on Sunday, spokesman Jesse Melgar said in an emailed statement.

Newsom was notified Friday evening that a California Highway Patrol member who had contact with three of his children later tested positive for the virus. The California Highway Patrol provides security for Newsom and his family. Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, did not have contact with the officer.

The Newsoms were not tested until Sunday based on advice from health professionals “to improve the accuracy of the test,” Melgar said.

The family is quarantining at their home in Sacramento County. They will be tested regularly, Melgar said. Newsom’s children range in age from 4 to 11.

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Poll: California voters offer mixed views on death penalty, sanctuary laws, horse racing

Californians’ opinions are sharply divided about the death penalty and sanctuary-city policies, but they’re in broad agreement that climate change is a problem and President Trump’s threat to close the border with Mexico is a bad idea, according to a poll released Thursday, April 11.

The Quinnipiac University Poll asked 1,005 California voters April 3-8 about several familiar issues and a few new ones, including views of horse racing in the wake of 23 horses’ deaths in three months at Santa Anita.

The poll found that 48% of Californians prefer that people convicted of murder receive life in prison with no chance for parole, while 41% prefer that they get the death penalty. But in what seems like a contradiction, 46% oppose Gov. Gavin Newsom’s suspension of the death penalty, while 44% support Newsom’s policy.

Newsom’s mid-March order suspending executions in California has been controversial in part because critics say it defied the will of voters expressed in recent ballot initiatives regarding capital punishment.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points, found state residents also are divided about so-called sanctuary cities, with 46% saying cities “should be able to deal with immigrants as they see fit,” and 47% saying cities should be “forced to comply with federal immigration efforts.”

By an overwhelming margin of 70% to 23%, Californians said they oppose closing the southern border, something Trump has threatened to do if Mexico doesn’t halt illegal immigration to the United States, the poll found.

Also by a solid margin, 63% to 33%, state voters told the pollsters that climate change is “an emergency.” But few were getting behind the Green New Deal, with 16% stating support, 27% opposition and 56% no opinion yet about the environmental and economic policy package proposals sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

When asked by pollsters about major statewide officials, voters expressed more approval than disapproval — but hardly majority support — for Newsom (40%-33%), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (47%-37%) and Sen. Kamala Harris (47%-30%), who is running for president.

Democrats and Republicans differed dramatically on most questions. Among GOP voters only, 68% support the death penalty over life in prison, 88% oppose sanctuary cities, 59% favor closing the border, 75% say climate change is not an emergency, and 75% disapprove of Newsom’s job performance three months into his term.

It was “no surprise” that members of the two major parties were so polarized, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.

The poll was the first to ask Californians for their opinions about horse racing since an unusually high number of fatal injuries to horses in races and workouts prompted Santa Anita Park in Arcadia to interrupt racing for most of March. The deaths have drawn state and county investigations, and brought calls from Feinstein and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, for Santa Anita to halt racing pending those findings.

Asked if Newsom should create an independent panel to investigate the deaths of racehorses, 55% said yes and 35% said no, according to the poll.

Asked about their general views on horse racing, 19% said they were favorable and 20% unfavorable, while 59% expressed no opinion.

Reacting to the high percentage with no opinion, advocates on both sides saw an opportunity to sway the public.

“It’s no surprise to us that only 19% of California voters have a favorable view of racing,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which favors banning horse racing. “More have an unfavorable view, and the majority don’t even care enough to have an opinion about it.”

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the poll shows “we have work to do to educate the public concerning our commitment to the safety of the horse.”

The poll focusing on California was the second this week by Quinnipiac, which is in Connecticut.

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday asked California Democrats about the 2020 presidential race, finding Joe Biden is the choice of 26%, Bernie Sanders 18% and Harris 17%.

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