Is Gavin Newsom seeking help from top leadership? Joe Biden opposes recall of governor despite Covid-19 missteps
The California governor said it was the supporters of former president Donald Trump who were conducting the recall effort even if that meant costing the state coffers a whopping $81M
President Joe Biden reportedly "clearly opposes any effort to recall" California Governor Gavin Newsom over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Those seeking the Democratic governor’s recall are doing so on grounds of allegations that he mishandled the response to the pandemic, doing little for the state’s high number of homeless people and backing sanctuary city policies and water rationing. The effort to recall Newsom was launched in June last year and the supporters have time till March 17 to collect the required number of signatures (1,495,709) to trigger the recall election. Newsom said it was the supporters of former president Donald Trump who were conducting the recall effort even if that meant costing the state coffers a whopping $81M.
However, the Biden administration is not in favor of recalling 53-year-old Newsom who completed two years in the post last month. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Tuesday, February 9: “In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom." Psaki tweeted after she was asked about Biden’s stance on the matter during a press briefing held earlier. She said at the press meet that she had no words with the president about Newsom’s recall or the efforts to recall.
In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 9, 2021
“I have not spoken with the president about the recall, I should say, or the efforts to recall... Gov. Newsom. Obviously he is somebody who he has been engaged with in the past, they have a range of issues they have common agreement on, from the need to address climate change, to put people back to work, to address the COVID crisis. And you know, we remain closely engaged with him and his office,” Psaki said.
Newsom, who has been a news-maker in Democratic politics for some time, has come under the scanner over the Golden State’s reportedly poor performance in dealing with the pandemic which has claimed more than 468,000 lives across the US. California is the second-worst hit state with a death toll of nearly 45,000 after New York, as per Johns Hopkins University. California, however, has the most coronavirus cases, with more than 3.4M confirmed infections, NBC reported.
Newsom, a businessman-politician, has also been slammed over the distribution of a small amount of Covid-19 vaccine which is being provided to the states by the federal administration. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California ranks 27th among the states in terms of the percentage of vaccines administered. However, Newsom said last week that his state didn’t want to be average and aimed to do more and better, according to a CNN report.
Newsom is taking recall threat seriously, say critics
While Newsom’s office did not respond to an immediate request for a remark on the matter, according to NBC News, those behind the effort for his recall said Biden having a say on the matter shows that the California governor is taking the threat seriously and seeking help from the higher leadership.
Anne Dunsmore, campaign manager for Rescue California, one of the organizations that is supporting Newsom’s recall effort, told NBC: “They’re calling in the big guns. That says a lot. It means game on.”
The administrations of Newsom and Biden have been close allies. The California governor not only endorsed Biden for president before last year’s election but also enthusiastically backed the latter picking Kamala Harris, who served as an attorney-general and senator from California, as his running mate. Newsom has worked closely with Harris in San Francisco in the past with the former serving as its mayor and the latter as the district attorney. Last week, the Biden administration declared that it would set up its first vaccination sites in California, a deep blue state, to push the drive.
Dunsmore though said that the Newsom issue should not be seen as a “Biden versus Trump” one and accused the governor of trying to make the matter political from the very beginning. “These are practical problems people are having. It's not about Biden versus Trump,” she said. The former president had targeted Newsom during his stay in office over the state’s forest and water-management policies. He had also threatened to cut off federal funds for California to help it deal with the devastating wildfires after Newsom’s repeated plea.
Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan body, released a poll last week in which it was said that 54 per cent of Californians approve of Newsom’s job performance, 11 points down from 65 per cent found in May.