A statewide effort by Democrats to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office kicked off Saturday in Sonoma County as local political leaders and constituents gathered on the steps of Santa Rosa City Hall.
Approximately 50 people turned out to the rally and march in the late morning, carrying signs and U.S. flags and wearing pins and stickers emblazoned with the slogan “Stop the Republican Recall.”
“This election is bigger than one governor,” said State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, to the crowd through a bullhorn. “Coming up this fall, our values are on the ballot.”
The lieutenant governor has not yet set a date for the recall vote against Newsom, which Secretary of State Shirley Weber confirmed Wednesday had qualified for placement on a ballot. The certification of 1,719,900 signatures this past week, however, triggered immediate defensive action from Democratic organizers from the state to the local level on behalf of the governor.
In Santa Rosa, the message Saturday was one of both political empowerment and warnings about potential ripple effects if voters see fit to remove Newsom as governor. McGuire was joined by Rohnert Park Vice Mayor Jackie Elward, Sonoma County Supervisor Chris Coursey and Healdsburg City Councilmember Ariel Kelley, among others.
Pat Sabo, chairwoman of the Sonoma County Democratic Party, reminded the attendees at Saturday’s event that Sonoma County led voter turnout in the November 2020 election, as 90.5% of registered voters cast a ballot.
“We are going to have to emulate that to stop this recall,” she said.
A lineup of local Democratic elected officials praised Newsom’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and decried the recall effort as a partisan distraction, based in misinformation about the coronavirus and fueled by money flowing in from national Republican interests.
“What type of ideology will govern California if this recall effort is successful?” said Esther Lemus, Windsor councilwoman. “We’ll end up with a governor from Trump’s party, and we can’t let that happen.”
Lemus and other speakers warned of detrimental effects on homeless residents, immigrants and other groups if Republicans assume control of the state’s highest office.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and John Cox, a businessman who lost to Newsom in 2018 by a double-digit margin, have both said they are running against Newsom in the recall.
Caitlyn Jenner, former Olympian and longtime Republican, is also in the running.
Sonoma County residents who added their signatures to the recall petitions in the winter and spring cited several reasons for wanting Newsom out of the office. In addition to his management of the pandemic, recall supporters cited California’s high taxes, pro-immigration policies, stringent environmental regulations and rising homelessness.
Matt Heath, chairman of the Sonoma County GOP, could not be reached Saturday for comment about local Republican engagement around the recall.
The Sonoma County GOP said in a post on its website that Republicans are not the only voters in favor of recalling Newsom.
“Many Democrats and Decline to State voters also signed the recall petition,” the post read.
Bill Montgomery, who stood holding a U.S. flag in one hand and a sign supporting Newsom in the other at Saturday morning’s event, said he doesn’t know any Democrats who are in favor of the recall.
“They don’t see any other choice,” he said. “What does the Republican party want to do for California?”
Newsom will be only the second governor in California history to go through a recall vote, though California has seen 54 efforts to recall various governors since the power was enshrined in the state constitution in 1911, according to the secretary of state’s office.
You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or email@example.com. On Twitter @ka_tornay.