Not very long ago, when California Governor Gavin Newsom was still holding a slender but probably sufficient lead in the polls over the pending recall effort, he was sticking to his guns. He told the Sacramento Bee that if the voters did manage to recall him, he would “never regret a damn thing” he had done in terms of policy decisions. But now that his numbers have slipped even further and the vote is looking like a dead heat, if not an outright loss, he’s been changing his tune. In fact, he did an Olympic-class, 180-degree flip-flop from his previous statement, telling the Atlantic, “I’ll regret every damn one of those decisions” if he winds up being recalled. Which specific decisions are those? The Governor was willing to list a few. (National Review)
Newsom, who is facing a recall election on September 14, said in an interview with the Atlantic published on Friday that he feels “a weight of a responsibility to defeat” the recall effort, as well as “the responsibility that if we fall short, I’m going to own that.”
He listed a number of his recent initiatives, such as using billions of dollars of federal relief money in the state budget and signing a bill to expand health care to undocumented workers.
“If I do fall short, I’ll regret every damn one of those decisions. And I don’t want to have any regrets for putting everything out there and doing . . . what I think is right and what I think is in the best interest of California.”
It’s difficult to tell if Newsome is being intentionally disingenuous here to make himself look better or if he’s simply tone-deaf. I don’t think that many Californians, particularly the liberal Democrats who hold a significant majority, object to him spending federal relief money or expanding state healthcare options to illegal immigrants. What they’re upset over are the endless, shifting pandemic mandates, the lockdowns, and his failure to tackle either the homelessness crisis and the skyrocketing cost of living. Of course, talking about those things wouldn’t make for a very good sound bite.
One of the latest polls of likely voters out of California shows 51% favor recalling Newsom while only 40% want him to stay. Unless that turns out to be an outlier (which is always possible), Newsom could be in serious trouble. There are barely two weeks left until the deadline and people are already mailing in ballots. Changing a lot of hearts and minds at this point may be too steep of a hill to climb.
Newsom’s own message to the voters seems to be counterproductive to his cause as well. He’s been sending out messages asking his supporters to not only vote no on the recall but to leave the second question about who should replace him blank. Imagine what will happen if the 40% who still support him actually follow his instructions. They are the ones who are certainly the most likely to at least vote for one of the other Democrats that are running. The rest will come from the pool that are most likely to go for a total change of pace and support Republican talk radio icon (and Salem Media host) Larry Elder. He’s already leading in the polls with a small plurality, but too many die-hard Democrats not voting for anyone could really drive up his margin.
Getting back to Newsom’s “regrets” about his past policy choices, he really does sound like someone who is slowly coming to the realization that he seriously misread the room. In his own way, he may have almost been daring the electorate to recall him by issuing one outrageous mandate after another and basically challenging the public to do something about it. On September 14th, they might just take him up on his offer. And that will no doubt lead to “interesting times” in the Golden State and skyrocketing sales of popcorn among conservatives across the country.