LOS ANGELES – On the same day, California Gov. Gavin Newsom stopped in San Diego to announce proposed $ 12 billion in new funding to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis, the Republican candidate As a reminder, John Cox, brought his controversial “Meet the Beast” bus tour to the city coast.
San Diego is also home to hopeful governor Kevin Faulconer, who served as mayor from 2014 to 2020.
As Newsom faces a recall, Southern California, a densely populated region with more than 12 million registered voters, is quickly shaping up to be a key battleground for the governor and those seeking to overthrow him.
“The more conservative side in the middle needs to make sure they wear Orange County, and the more liberal side in the middle needs to make sure they wear LA,” said Anne Dunsmore, campaign manager for Rescue California, the ‘one of the groups behind the recall effort.
In the 2020 general election, more than half of the nearly 18 million votes cast in California came from just five counties, including four in southern California, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. Los Angeles County voters came in droves, casting the most votes of any county in the country, CalMatters reported.
Los Angeles, home to fellow recall candidate Caitlyn Jenner, has become a focal point for the governor in recent months.
In March, Newsom delivered his state-of-the-art address from Dodger Stadium, a move many observers have interpreted as the unofficial start of his anti-recall campaign. Newsom also visited the county in April to sign a bill that will give small businesses hardest hit by the pandemic a $ 6.2 billion tax cut over the next six years. In February, he visited mobile vaccination sites in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Coachella Valley.
“You have to go where the votes are and where the votes are here,” said Democratic strategist Garry South, who led the 1998 and 2002 campaigns for former Governor Gray Davis. “And at the moment, the poll doesn’t look too promising for supporters of the recall.”
According to a new poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, 36% of respondents in the state support Newsom’s recall and 52% approve of its performance, up from 64% in September.
More than half of registered Los Angeles voters who took part in the poll, 52%, said they would vote to retain Newsom as governor. In contrast, supporters of the recall appear to be concentrated in the central valley and sparsely populated areas of the north coast and Sierra Nevada, according to the poll.
In Orange County, once a Republican stronghold that is rapidly turning purple, opinions appear divided. Forty-five percent of survey respondents support the recall and 45 percent oppose it. Ten percent remain undecided.
“Democrats have made massive inroads in Orange County,” said Thad Kousser, professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego. “It is now a mosaic of red and blue.”
Throughout the ’80s and’ 90s, Republicans were able to rely on what Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters called the “hook” of California.
“Republicans could win an election going down the Central Valley, and that hook would cross San Diego, go up into Orange County, and if Republicans could just win 50-50 in Los Angeles, they would win a race to scale. state, ”Kousser explained. “There is no more hook. San Diego has been a reliable blue county … and LA has turned firmly blue. “
In March, Democrats overturned a Republican seat on the Orange County Supervisory Board for the first time in decades. In 2018, Democrats won four Republican-held congressional seats in what was once called the “Orange Curtain” because of its cultural divide from the rest of the region.
Republicans regained two seats in 2020, but nearly 54% of registered voters chose then-candidate Joe Biden over President Donald Trump, whose name has been repeatedly referred to as a political boogeyman by Newsom and his supporters.
Still, callback supporters see an opportunity in Los Angeles, where Newsom beat former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on his own home turf in 2018. Villaraigosa came third in the primary behind Newsom and John Cox.
Dunsmore said Newsom’s 52% favorability was “an invitation for someone to show up, probably to Los Angeles because that’s their weak spot.
Villaraigosa has raised speculation about a second run, but he has not officially announced his intention to seek a statewide office.
For much of the winter, Los Angeles was a coronavirus hotspot where tens of thousands of people were infected daily and some hospitals were forced to create makeshift emergency rooms as intensive care units overflowed. .
Latinos, who make up nearly half of the county’s residents, have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“He’s weak in Los Angeles, and he’s weak with Hispanics,” Dunsmore said. “They don’t jump for him. The Hispanic community has been disproportionately affected by Covid, and they know it. “
According to a poll released in March by Probolsky Research, an independent, non-partisan research firm, 44.5% of Latino voters who responded would vote to recall Newsom. Only 41% said they would oppose the recall, compared to 49% of white voters, 49% of Asian voters and 72% of black voters.
Newsom attempted to describe the recall effort as a partisan takeover by pro-Trump Republicans, saying supporters are threatened by the “browning of California.”
“The real impetus for the recall dates back to my advocacy on behalf of our diverse communities,” Newsom said in March.
The initiative’s main organizer, Orrin Heatlie, has previously posted online that immigrants should be given a microchip. Heatlie said it was hyperbole, but admitted he was inspired to pursue a recall after hearing Newsom talk about immigration, The Associated Press reported.