Why Did the Newsom Recall Happen?

Why Did the Newsom Recall Happen?

Anabelle Taylor, Journalist

In the three years of Gavin Newsom’s term as governor of California, many Californians have been largely dissatisfied.


This discontent started early in his term with his executive decision to suspend the death penalty. This upset many voters because there had just been an election to keep the death penalty in America. Critics of Newsom often point to this event as a warning sign that would foreshadow a long list of injustices. Other policies that irritated voters were the cost of the water tax, vehicle registration, state income tax, gas tax, and overall cost of living in California- which many think is too high.


The most significant source of resentment, however, was how Newson reacted to the pandemic. In a state of emergency, like the emergence of COVID-19, the governor is allowed to ignore certain laws, unilaterally suspend environmental laws and other regulations, spend state funds in ways other than those designated by the Legislature, and essentially govern through executive order. Some Californians were frightened to see how easily Newsom assumed this role. In fact, Assemblyman Jim Wood reported, “We often as legislators hear maybe five minutes before an executive order comes out or by watching live the governor’s daily updates to get information, and that’s a challenge.” People like Kevin Kily, another California State Assemblyman, mark this as one of their reasons for supporting the recent recall election.


Another cause for concern was the legislature that released criminals from prison out of fear of the accumulation of COVID within cell walls. In Orange County, 400 felons who didn’t serve their full sentence now walk free.


Voters were also upset by mandates that led to the termination of small businesses, especially restaurants. For example, Newsom shut down outdoor dining within two day’s notice of Thanksgiving. This alone caused countless restaurants to shut down. To add salt to the wound, right after this mandate was passed and restaurateurs were suffering, Newsom held a private gathering at the French Laundry with twenty-two people who all ate inside without masks.


Other unpopular COVID regulations include Newsom shutting down schools. He insisted this was the best course of action for all parents in order to keep COVID numbers under control. While all this is true, it sent mixed messages when Newsom still sent his children to in-person school throughout the pandemic. For these reasons and more, over two million Californians felt Newsom had lost touch with the people and was no longer fit to govern. In the words of a volunteer in the recall, “a leader is only as good as its people are doing, so if you’re trying to lead people and you leave them behind, what’s that showing?”

Thankfully, in California, voters are able to change their governor for a more adept leader- which is exactly what they tried to do.