Dems affix ‘coup’ label

Volunteers with the Recall Newsom 2020 campaign hold a petition signing event at SaveMart in Sacramento on Jan. 5, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Volunteers with the Recall Newsom 2020 campaign hold a petition signing event at SaveMart in Sacramento on Jan. 5, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

In a sign that the movement to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is increasingly perceived as a serious threat, the California Democratic Party took the extraordinary step Tuesday of branding it as a “coup” and alleging that its backers were linked to the violent mob who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.

  • Party Chairman Rusty Hicks“This recall effort, which really ought to be called ‘the California coup,’ is being led by right-wing conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers, and groups who encourage violence on our democratic institutions.”
  • Randy Economy, a recall spokesperson“Our recall effort is tied to all Californians. Jesus Christ, they’re going to go there? That’s how bad the Democratic Party is in California.”

The press conference marked the party’s first attempt to combat the recall effort, which has gained steam in recent weeks amid a series of high-profile endorsements and cash infusions. Organizers said last week they had collected more than 1 million of the 1.5 million signatures needed to prompt a recall election, underscoring Democratic strategists’ warning that Newsom shouldn’t ignore the effort.

But although Democrats attempted Tuesday to “draw a straight line from the horrible events of last week in Washington, D.C., to current events here in California” — in the words of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria — they were unable to provide proof that white supremacists or other extremists were linked to the Newsom recall. Hicks also acknowledged the “legality” of the recall, which, unlike a coup, is a democratic mechanism written into the California constitution that allows voters to remove an elected official by popular vote, as CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

Several Democrats also accused former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican who last week launched a gubernatorial exploratory committee, of trying to “exploit” the recall to revive a “flagging political career.”

  • Faulconer“Comparing the capitol attack on our democracy to a recall effort allowed under the state Constitution, signed by 1 mil. people across the political spectrum, is absolutely disgraceful.”

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. 

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