As the nation watches its president go through impeachment proceedings on the global stage, another battle is being waged on leadership in California by coalition of activists looking to get rid of the governor.
For over a month, members of the California Valley Patriots and Stanislaus County for State of Jefferson have frequented Turlock corners and parking lots in search of signatures for a petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. So far, the effort has accumulated 600,000 names statewide and 6,000 in Stanislaus County — about 3,000 of which have come from Turlock alone.
The petition would need to amass 1.5 million signatures by February to land a spot on the November 2020 ballot, which would ask voters to consider recalling the Democratic governor who was elected over Republican John Cox by a margin of three million votes in 2018.
CVP Chaplain Dan Edgmon said that his own group, which promotes constitutionalism, and the local State of Jefferson chapter, which aims to split California into two states, use a list of 21 talking points when speaking with potential petition signees. Issues they have with Newsom include attacks on the Second Amendment, he said, in addition to California’s high rates of homelessness, poverty and income tax.
They also disagree with Newsom’s handling of the justice system, which has seen the governor place a moratorium on the death penalty and release inmates at higher rates, and have taken issue with the state’s record number of lawsuits against the federal government.
“(Newsom) has no respect for Washington and our president, and we just don’t need anyone like that,” Edgmon said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s the governor of California or not, we still need to respect our president.”
The last time a United States governor was recalled was in 2003, when a special election resulted in voters replacing Democratic Gov. Gray Davis with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Davis was the second-ever governor to be recalled nationwide and the first to be recalled in California, though seven of the last nine governors have faced recall attempts.
In August, Newsom made a statement in response to the recall effort, saying it would cost California taxpayers $81 million. Newsom stated he’s made good on plenty of his campaign promises, like increasing funding for public education, protecting health care, improving infrastructure and preparing for wildfire threats. He added partisan activists go against the state’s values and the recall effort is pushed by “political extremists supporting President Trump.”
“People drive by yelling at us about Trump, but we don’t have one thing mentioning Trump out here,” CVP Vice President Lew Conley said. “This is a bipartisan effort…we have Libertarians supporting us.”
Turlock resident Leann Wilson made her way out to the recall petition booth on Friday, stating that she disagrees with just about everything Newsom has done since taking office.
“I have never like him. I don’t stand with anything he stands for, and I don’t believe in anything he says. I never wanted him to be elected to start with,” Wilson said. “The whole thing that’s going on with California sucks…If you go and you look at the streets, you see all the homeless.
“I want him gone and if I had my phone, I’d look up everything that I dislike about him.”
Conley believes California’s current conditions are forcing many to leave the state.
“The sad thing is that the people who pay the taxes and have businesses here are leaving for other states,” he said. “When there’s nobody here to tax but the people who are left, what happens then? People don’t want to leave but they’re having to leave.”
Overall, the group is optimistic about getting their recall effort on the ballot, Edgmon said.
“If it can happen to Gray Davis, it can happen to him.”