Newsom offers recall defense in atypical State of the State


California Governor Gavin Newsom publicly referred to the upcoming recall challenge on Tuesday. | Jay Calderon / The Desert Sun over AP, Pool, File

Governor Gavin Newsom used an evening speech on the state of the state to empathize with the victims of the pandemic and announce California’s progress in fighting the coronavirus. A message was loud that could be well received by voters if they were to be called back.

The Democratic governor announced his third version of the annual address at his most vulnerable point since taking office in 2019. Proponents of the recall took advantage of voter frustration over the years of closure of the pandemic. While Newsom did not directly mention the recall campaign, he alluded to it by condemning “party political seizures” – the first time he publicly referred to the impending challenge.

In a break with tradition that highlighted how the pandemic has consumed California politics, the Democratic governor spoke from an empty Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles rather than addressing lawmakers at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Newsom also returned the nationwide address that evening, taking the opportunity to speak to a larger segment of an electorate who judged the governor’s performance largely through the lens of the pandemic.

“Even when we mourn, we dream of brighter days,” Newsom said, announcing an upcoming time when listeners “could visit your parents again, go to your daughter’s basketball game and show up for shift work without fear of infection . “

In contrast to Newsom’s first two speeches on the state of the state, Tuesday evening’s address contained few political proposals. Instead, the governor delivered a message of common sacrifice, tempered by hope for the months to come. He honored frontline workers and victims while arguing California would recover by helping the “millions of Californians who were evicted from the workforce and important workers who had no choice but to keep reappearing.”

In another premiere, the governor accompanied his speech on the state with pictures of frontline workers and a video of the state’s efforts to combat the pandemic. Legislators appeared on a split screen for virtual meetings.

“Covid wasn’t anyone’s fault, but it quickly became everyone’s burden,” Newsom said, later noting, “In 2020 we faced two one-off crises at the same time as we battled the worst wildfire season in our state’s history in the United States.” in the middle of the pandemic. “

Newsom’s political fate has followed the course of the virus over the past year. Early praise for his aggressive efforts to contain its spread turned into frustration as schools remained closed and many Californians scrubbed under fluctuating restrictions. This dynamic has fueled efforts to remind Newsom of the edge of qualification for the vote. Proponents said Sunday that they collected nearly 2 million signatures, which they think is more than enough to meet the 1.5 million valid signature requirement.

On Tuesday, he offered some flashes of humility as he admitted that he sometimes missed out and said, “Our progress has not always felt fast enough” and “I’ve made mistakes”. He admitted that his limitations weighed on residents.

“People today live because of the public health choices we have made – lives saved by your sacrifice,” Newsom said. “Even so, I admit that it made life difficult and unpredictable, and you are exhausted with all of that.”

However, the image of the state is improving rapidly. Hospital stays and virus transmissions have declined sharply after nearly two months of home orders and as more Californians are being vaccinated. The Newsom administration has expanded the path for the districts to reopen schools and businesses. Last week California announced a schedule for residents to return to sporting events, concerts, and outdoor theme parks.

Newsom has been touting California’s progress in stopping vaccination sites across the state in the past few weeks. While the governor diligently avoids commenting on the recall, the press conferences can feel like campaign events, even as allies praise Newsom’s responsibility. Newsom referred to this nationwide tour on Tuesday evening and His address provided a similar opportunity to highlight declining infections and a number of government assistance programs.

He advocated his first reaction when the virus hit last March. The argument that California outperformed other states in early virus containment measures. He said success has continued, pointing to “the most robust vaccination program in America” ​​to say, “we are leading the fight against Covid”. And he was happy and said that the schools are about to reopen and Highlighting the Diverse Financial Lifelines California has expanded to include individuals and small businesses that have been shaken by repeated shutdowns.

“We give security,” said Newsom. “Assurance that we Californians will safely vaccinate as soon as possible.” Certainty that we will safely reopen our economy. Assurance that we will get our children back to the classroom safely. All of this leads to a better future for our state. “

The Democratic governor has the advantage of generating record revenue from the California state budget this year, on top of the potential $ 10 billion from the new federal stimulus package. All of that money will enable Newsom to provide residents with additional facilities and funding – some of which it and state lawmakers have already approved in the form of $ 600 grants for low-income workers and residents for state aid programs to have.

However, Newsom will continue to face criticism of an unemployment insurance system that is embarrassed by a series of fraudulent payments, as well as parents’ feelings of still not doing enough to get school children back into the classroom.

Recalling the political interests of the speech, both Republicans who wanted to replace Newsom responded by berating the governor. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Newsom had “raised the bar for a recall,” highlighting issues like closed schools, unemployment benefits and homelessness.

“This crisis is beyond the current governor’s ability to deal with it,” said Faulconer. “California needs a comeback, but the only comeback Gavin Newsom is focusing on is his own. He will do anything to save his political career.”

Republican businessman John Cox, who lost mostly to Newsom in 2018, said in a statement that Newsom’s shortcomings did not start with the pandemic. “Gavin Newsom didn’t make it before the pandemic, his response has been an epic failure as schools and businesses are closed longer than any other state, and now he hasn’t adjusted his vision for a comeback in California,” said Cox.

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