Is Gov. Newsom ad right recall election is 'a matter of life and death?'


Fact Box

  • Gavin Newsom has been the governor of California since 2018. Previously he worked for the San Francisco Parking and Traffic Commission, the SF Board of Supervisors, the mayor, and lieutenant governor. 
  • The 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall Election will be September 14, 2021. There are a total of 46 candidates running for office.
  • A Politico survey released Wednesday, September 1, 2021, revealed 58 percent of voters say they will likely reject the recall of Governor Newsom. Of the voters, the majority (90 percent) of Democrats support Gov. Newsom while most Republicans (82 percent) push for his removal. 
  • In a campaign ad released on Monday, August 16, 2021, Gov. Newsom claimed the recall election will be “a matter of life and death.”
  • As of Monday, May 3, 2021, Governor Newsom had 1.6 million signatures for recall, totaling enough to make the ballot. Critics say his pandemic handling and numerous restrictions were reason enough for his recall.

Andrew (Yes)

The stark difference in rhetoric around COVID-19 between California Governor Gavin Newsom and his likely opponent in the recall election, Larry Elder, highlights the life and death stakes in this election. While Governor Newsom has shown exemplary leadership by making tough decisions on lockdowns and other measures, Larry Elder and his fellow Republican challengers have frequently denied the severity of the virus and promised to eliminate mask mandates and mandatory testing. Simply put, Newsom supports measures that stop the infection and save lives; his opponents favor populist approaches that will result in infections and death.

The second matter of life and death involved in the recall election revolves around issues that affect people of color. Governor Newsom has championed causes, such as limits on police use of force and a major expansion of anti-poverty programs. His likely opponent, Larry Elder, has spoken out publicly against the existence of structural racism and is in favor of tough on crime measures known to disproportionately hurt communities of color. Research has shown that poverty is a strong indicator of one's level of health, one's exposure to violence, and many other quality of life indicators. Governor Newsom supports helping the poor in our society, whereas Larry Elder thinks they should work harder.

The third significant matter of life and death at stake in this recall election is the environment. While Governor Newsom has put forward his Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan to combat the increasing ferocity of forest fires, planned the future elimination of fossil fuels in vehicles, and made improvements in greener agriculture, his Republican opponents have repeatedly downplayed the effects of climate change, an impending disaster facing more than just California.


Veronica (No)

Newsom's campaign is primarily targeted against opponent frontrunner Larry Elder who has vowed to remove vaccine and mask mandates. However, like other Republican governors, Elder would not be preventing people from wearing masks or getting vaccinated. It is simply a matter of leaving that choice up to the individual, rather than forcing them via the government to vaccinate against their will. This is basic medical freedom. 

Despite Newsom's aggressive and restrictive response, California has ultimately fared little better against COVID than other states, like Texas or Florida, where vaccines are not mandated, and masking and other restrictions are gone. And Newsom has flounted his own COVID restrictions, making it look as though he is not personally invested in them. He is using the virus and the 'life and death' language as a scare tactic during the recall.

While COVID is the hot-button issue, voters are upset with Newsom for a number of reasons. California recently lost a Congressional seat for the first time ever as residents (and businesses) leave for more conservative states. Under Newsom, homicides jumped 31% in 2020. Other issues like homelessness are also on the rise. As governor, he should be focused on all of the lives and deaths in his state, not just those resulting from COVID. 

80% of eligible California residents have already been vaccinated. California is currently administering over 500,000 vaccinations per weekend and, at this rate, could reach maximum before the end of the year. Regardless of whether he is recalled, Newsom remains in office until January, and the vaccination rate by then will be so high that it is almost a moot point what his opponents' COVID policy is.

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