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Previous story Gavin Newsoms' polls are sinking. Democrats are mobilizing. The Newsom recall just got real Next story


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Published on February 4, 2021 7:46 AM

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Two of the California's most respected polls this week showed that support for Gov. Gavin Newsom has plummeted amid the state's worst stretch of the pandemic so far. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
OAKLAND, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn't want to talk about the recall. But his allies can't ignore it.

The campaign to oust Newsom went from unlikely to unavoidable this week as pervasive frustration with Newsom's pandemic management cut sharply into his approval numbers. The longer businesses have been closed, hospitals full and school campuses shut, the more the movement has gained traction beyond conservative social media circles.

The nation's biggest Democratic vulnerability after a score of blue victories has become an irresistible nightly feature on Fox News. Should the effort qualify, look for money to pour into the state and celebrities to add their names to the ballot, if only for the promotional benefits.

Newsom still deflects questions about the opposition effort by saying he is singularly focused on vaccinating Californians and reducing Covid-19 spread. He has adamantly denied that his abrupt decision to reverse stay-at-home orders last month was an attempt to quell voter frustration. And he seems determined to avoid legitimizing the effort by acknowledging it.

But California Democrats and their political backers are bracing for a campaign nevertheless as recall organizers turn in hundreds of thousands of signatures. State lawmakers are proclaiming their support for Newsom, seeking to tamp down any signs of disunity. Interest groups and donors who would be called upon to fund a recall defense are quietly ramping up, with one union launching the first public counteroffensive.

"Are we getting prepared to oppose it? Of course," said Joe Cotchett, a longtime ally and donor to Newsom.