Newsom still deflects questions about the opposition effort by saying he is singularly focused on vaccinating Californians and reducing Covid-19 spread. He has adamantly denied that his abrupt decision to reverse stay-at-home orders last month was an attempt to quell voter frustration. And he seems determined to avoid legitimizing the effort by acknowledging it.

But California Democrats and their political backers are bracing for a campaign nevertheless as recall organizers turn in hundreds of thousands of signatures. State lawmakers are proclaiming their support for Newsom, seeking to tamp down any signs of disunity. Interest groups and donors who would be called upon to fund a recall defense are quietly ramping up, with one union launching the first public counteroffensive.

“Are we getting prepared to oppose it? Of course,” said Joe Cotchett, a longtime ally and donor to Newsom.