California Republicans may be asking themselves what they have to lose by attempting to remove Gov. Newsom. The successful recall of Mr. Davis may be instructive. Since re-electing the relatively nonpartisan Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003, the GOP has managed only two statewide victories—his re-election and a race for insurance commissioner, both in 2006. Republicans haven’t won a U.S. Senate seat in California since 1990.
Once a GOP stronghold, California has become one of the bluest states. In 2002 Mr. Davis won his gubernatorial election by less than 5%. By contrast, Mr. Newsom crushed his 2018 opponent by almost 24%. In 2004 John Kerry defeated George W. Bush in the Golden State by slightly less than 10% of the vote. In 2020 Joe Biden won with 29%.
Some Republicans may see a successful recall of Mr. Newsom as an opportunity to reverse the party’s steep decline in California. But the GOP had a moderately good 2020, recapturing three congressional seats that it lost in 2018. The recall risks turning off California voters who are open to supporting Republicans but don’t want to waste taxpayer money on election reruns. Nobody likes a sore loser.