California Gov Gavin Newsom admits mistakes in Covid-19 handling but remains defiant against recall election

The Democratic leader slammed his critics in a recent interview saying they were after his progressive policy agenda

                            California Gov Gavin Newsom admits mistakes in Covid-19 handling but remains defiant against recall election
California Governor Gavin Newsom faces re-election in November 2022 unless unseated before that (Getty Images)

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has admitted yet again that he made mistakes in handling the coronavirus pandemic but said the recall effort against him is more related to politics than the public health disaster. California has seen the most number of Covid-19 positive cases -- more than 3.6 million -- and deaths -- over 56,000. The state has also seen more than 50 million tests. 

Speaking with Sam Francisco’s KQED on Friday, March 12, Newsom spoke on the effort to unseat him saying his opponents were targeting his progressive policy agenda. “It’s about immigration. It’s about our health care policies. It’s about our criminal justice reform. It’s about the diversity of the state. It’s about our clean air, clean water programs, meeting our environmental strategies,” the governor, who completed two years in office in January, said. He faces re-election in November 2022 unless unseated before that. 


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For Newsom, the challenges have only gone up in times of the pandemic. Organizers of a campaign to recall the businessman-politician have gathered a massive number of signatures (nearly two million) to trigger the procedure. The citizens can recall and replace public officials before the conclusion of their terms by gathering signatures in a petition. The petition needs a specific number of signatures over a stipulated time period and if a valid number of signatures is gathered by then, the recall election can take place. 

The procedure differs from state to state and in the Golden State, the petitioners need to present 1.49 million verified signatures to the state officials by March 17, as per the recall organizers. If they succeed in the mission, the voters will be asked later this year whether the Democratic governor should be removed. They will also be asked who should replace Newsom if a majority feels he should not hold office. The organizers of the recall movement were not happy with Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and the lockdowns in the state while his economic policies are also being seen with suspicion. Though California is predominantly a blue state with only 24 percent registered GOP voters, the proponents of the recall initiative said they were attracting the Democratic supporters and the Independents as well. 

“The governor has done such a poor job on so many different fronts that we need the people of California to have an opportunity to come up with something better. It’s not just the COVID response, which has been erratic and has been absolutely devastating to the mental, the physical, and the emotional health of so many people in California. We have the highest poverty rate in the nation. We have almost, if not the highest, unemployment rate in the nation. We are seeing people leave this state in droves. And it’s a result of very bad policies coming out of Sacramento, that all have Gavin Newsom’s thumbprint all over them,” Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner previously told The Epoch Times earlier this month.

Former San Diego mayor and Republican candidate for California Governor Kevin Faulconer speaks during a news conference in front of Abraham Lincoln High School on February 17, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Kevin Faulconer held a news conference in front of a San Francisco high school to demand that California Gov. Gavin Newsom reopen schools in the state. (Getty Images)


'We learn from (mistakes), never stop trying'

Newsom, 53, has admitted his mistakes in the past as well. In his state of the state address last week, he said: “Look, we’ve made mistakes. I’ve made mistakes. But we own them, learn from them, and never stop trying.” 

“The state of our state remains determined. I remain determined! We won’t change course just because of a few nay-sayers and dooms-dayers. So to the California critics who are promoting partisan power grabs and outdated prejudices and rejecting everything that makes California great, we say this: we will not be distracted from getting shots in arms and our economy booming again,” he added. 
The movement seeking Newsom’s ouster gathered steam over the winter as the coronavirus cases rose in California. Schools and businesses remained shut, frustrating citizens and the governor annoyed more people by attending dinner at a high-end restaurant in San Francisco Bay Area, defying his own health advisory. Newsom said in the interview that he regretted attending the dinner. “That’s those things you can never get back. And, you know, I owned up to that. And no one hid from that. And that was a mistake. Crystal clear,” he told KQED.

Newsom also faced criticism over California’s slow vaccine rollout earlier this year. He though conceded that he learned several lessons while leading the battle against the pandemic and that the state could have done a better job in educating the people and communicating to them as the restrictions changed over the past year. 

The last time California saw its governor getting replaced through a recall effort was almost two decades ago. In 2003, Democrat Gray Davis was recalled and actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced him as a Republican candidate.