Republican John Cox is looking to try his hand in the governor’s race again if the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom scores enough signatures to get the referendum on a ballot.
Cox, who on the Republican ticket challenged Newsom in 2018, has frequently called out the governor’s “epic mismanagement” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s in dysfunction, almost every aspect of life,” Cox told Fox News of his home state in an interview.
Cox said the Golden State has a low quality of life due to the “cost of living, high poverty rate, high taxes, and high housing costs.” He lost handily to Newsom in 2018, but earned the most votes for statewide office for a Republican since Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Recall organizers must obtain 1.5 million signatures by March 17 to get the referendum on Newsom, D., on the ballot. As of Tuesday, petitioners have gathered 1.2 million signatures, according to Recall Gavin, one of two groups organizing the effort.
Per state law, petition sponsors must gather the signatures of 12% of the voter turnout in California’s previous statewide election, which is about 1,495,709 names.
Rescue California, one of two main groups organizing the campaign, says their goal is to collect 2 million signatures to account for the fact that many of the signatures will inevitably prove invalid.
San Diego’s KUSI reported Saturday that California’s Secretary of State has confirmed 84% of the signatures collected so far are valid.
Cox was confident the recall effort would succeed given Newsom’s handling of both the pandemic and the state in general.
“When I ran in 2018, it was housing, and homelessness, and electricity and water and fires. Now it’s been multiplied with the pandemic, the shut down of business, keeping our kids out of school and activities and all the other issues I talked about have gotten worse,” he said.
Newsom’s office could not be reached for comment.
The current effort is the state’s sixth to recall its Democratic governor in two years.
Since 1911, Californians have attempted to recall their governor 55 times, but were successful only in 2003 against Gov. Gray Davis, who was ousted in a special election. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected to replace Davis as governor.
Newsom received high praise for his aggressive approach to the coronavirus last spring, when he issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order. But the public grew weary over subsequent health orders that have shuttered schools and businesses and an over $11 billion unemployment benefits fraud scandal.
Cox also lambasted the governor for honing in on climate change at a time of rolling blackouts and rapid-spreading wildfires.
“Can you imagine sitting in your home, seeing smoke all over the place, and you know these fires are advancing, and the only response from your governor is, ‘well let’s ban the car in 15 years, in 2035?”
Cox said he believes Republicans might have a fighting chance in the state given the performance of referendums on the November election ballot.
In a series of ballot measures, Californians voted against a number of initiatives Newsom had supported– an effort to raise taxes on commercial properties, an attempt to reinstate affirmative action policies, rent control expansion and an anti-independent contactor law were all defeated. Meanwhile, Californians voted in favor of reinstating cash bail, which had been done away with by state Democrats.
“That all happened in a year where the top of the ticket, Joe Biden got 10 million votes and the president got six. So there was an overwhelming vote at the top of the ticket for Mr. Biden yet a lot of these liberal initiatives were shot down by voters,” he said.
“I just look at the numbers and that tells me a lot the voters are really getting the message here that 20-30 years one-party rule– anything goes on any extreme idea in Sacramento– has really curtailed the quality of life in California.”
If there is a race mid-term, Cox said he’s going to focus on a key overlooked demographic in the state— its voters who aren’t registered with either major party.
Eight million of the state’s 22 million voters are not Republicans or Democrats. ” It’s that group I’m going to go after in this recall,” Cox said. “I’m going to go after them on the basis of managing aspects of life better, we have to do it.”