Newsom gets what he wants, but will it work?

His most recent “victory” was to dissuade all other substantial Democrats (read: well-funded) in California from not being on the list of candidates to replace him if the “yes” side of the recall were to win a majority vote.

That was Newsom’s goal from the moment it became clear that supporters of the recall would collect enough signatures to put the notion to a statewide vote. The tactic is designed to allow Newsom to use his massive and so far largely untapped war chest to convince voters that this contest really is between him and ex-President Donald Trump.

If he can do so, the enthusiasm of California Democrats to vote “no” seems likely to increase dramatically. Right now, polls show nearly all of the registered Democrats who outnumber Republicans in this state by a margin of almost 2-1 oppose the recall, but essentially yawn as they say.

Pair the recall with Trump, whom they despise to the point of twice giving his electoral opponents margins of over 3 million votes, and their determination to vote has a chance to approach the enthusiasm displayed by supporters of the recall. , who salivate at the prospect of throwing Newsom (known to many of them as “Gov. Nuisance”).

Can Newsom make recall a synonym for Trump? He shouldn’t have too much trouble, as the most prominent of the 33 Republicans in the substitute arena all have ties to the defeated president.

San Diego-area businessman John Cox, for example, had strong backing from Trump when he ran against Newsom in 2018 and lost in a 62-38% landslide. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer proudly says he voted for Trump last year and can be seen in photos of the Oval Office he admires. Reality TV star Caitlin Jenner has had former Trump agents in her so far ineffective campaign. Etc.

So Newsom has an early election date and everything he said he wants and needs to defend himself except one. A blunder attributed to his collaborators deprives him of the label “Democrat” after his name in the recall question.

But he’s got a lot of money and a lot of notoriety, and almost no Californian is unaware that Newsom is in fact a Democrat, even if the poll doesn’t say so. Among the funded, he has only Republican opponents. It has a state budget that will put large Covid recovery checks in millions of mailboxes just before the vote.

He has $ 5.2 billion to pay more than a year of rent to nearly all Californians who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. It has an electoral system that will provide mail ballots to every registered voter, making it easier for them to vote than ever before, even if they don’t feel excited about it.

For most applicants, it sounds like a dream world.

And yet, no poll to date shows great enthusiasm for keeping Newsom around.

So there’s a lot of work for the governor if he really wants to stay in office and maybe move on to the Senate or the White House – or both later.

It is a very different situation from the one the ex-governor faced. Gray Davis, who was recalled a few months after his re-election in 2002, the only US governor to have lost his post so ignominiously.

But Davis faced an electorate who blamed him for a major energy crisis and a series of blackouts. Additionally, he ran into Terminator, the muscular man of cinema Arnold Schwarzenegger, who became the frontrunner to trigger the recall and replace Davis from the moment he declared himself a candidate.

There is no one like that today. Newsom was among America’s most effective governors in getting his state vaccinated and reducing pandemic damage. For the most part he kept the lights on, even though he financially favored utility companies.

So it would be a major upheaval if Newsom were to be dumped. But there’s still that huge enthusiasm advantage that Republicans now have over Democrats. Which means we all need to stay tuned.

Email Thomas Elias at [email protected]