Politico reports that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “closing message” to voters in the Golden State is: “More people will die if I’m recalled.”
Newsom, whose coronavirus shutdowns last year fueled enthusiasm for the recall, is pointing to the latest surge as proof that he is needed, because his likeliest replacements want to end mask and vaccine mandates.
Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, for example, was vaccinated himself, and has encouraged others to do likewise, voluntarily, but wants to repeal Newsom’s requirement for state employees and health care workers to take the vaccine.
“There is no more consequential decision to the health and safety of the people of the state of California than voting no on this Republican-backed recall,” Newsom said Tuesday at a vaccine event in Oakland two weeks before the recall election. He said that “the starkest contrast” exists between him and the Republican candidates who would rather go the way of Texas and Florida, states with more lax protocols and subsequently lower vaccine rates and higher virus cases.
The governor was blasted in November for attending a high-end French Laundry dinner with lobbyist friends despite discouraging residents from attending social gatherings, a cringe-worthy decision widely viewed as a catalyst for the signature drive that qualified the recall. Things only got worse in subsequent months as California suffered its highest Covid-19 death rates and hospitals were overrun.
In the final stretch before the Sept. 14 election, the governor has leaned into his pandemic efforts again. In the past month, Newsom mandated a universal school mask policy ahead of the CDC and issued some of the strictest vaccine requirements for teachers and health care workers in the country. Meanwhile, all of the top Republican recall candidates are vowing to undo those mandates if elected.
As Delta variant anxieties increase, and the election coincides with precarious school reopenings, the Democratic governor sees opportunity in drawing a stark and ominous line between himself and his challengers: If he is ousted, the virus will get worse, not better.
Voters have already started turning in their mail-in ballots. Voting continues, by mail and in person, until September 14.