California Governor Gavin Newsom will address Democratic Party loyalists on Saturday as he stages a campaign to keep his job.
His speech to thousands of activists at the California Democratic Party’s annual convention, which is held virtually, follows state election officials announcing that a preliminary tally shows the recall effort against him has had enough of signatures to vote.
Voters will have a chance, in this fall’s near-certain election, to decide whether the first-term Democrat should be removed from office before his term ends. Convention delegates are among the party’s most hard-working organizers, who may knock on doors, make phone calls, or provide a cheering section at rallies for Democratic candidates.
“The governor can speak and remind everyone why we supported him as governor and why he won with an overwhelming majority,” said Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a fellow Democrat. For party activists, Republicans are trying to sabotage Newsom and “that is what will ultimately create the organizational support to defeat the recall.”
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Vice President Kamala Harris is also set to deliver remarks, an exciting time for Democrats who have helped her rise through the political ranks in California, from San Francisco District Attorney to State Attorney General. passing by the American senator, before being chosen by Joe Biden for his presidential ticket.
The annual rally, which began Thursday, serves as a forum to debate policies, approve candidates and otherwise energize party members. With no other major contests on the state ballot this year, Newsom’s scheduled fall recall election will be one of the most publicized races in California and the country.
“Getting ready to stage and defeat a Republican Gov. Gavin Newsom recall is going to be an important part of our conversation,” California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks said of the weekend’s activities.
Hicks, who has just been re-elected as party chair, said the convention will remain focused on California’s emergence from the pandemic, including efforts to immunize millions of people, reopen schools and support small businesses.
Newsom’s political fate will depend in part on how people feel about its handling of the pandemic and whether schools and businesses stay open ahead of the election.
Republicans have criticized him for shutting down schools and businesses, although recent polls show the majority of voters support his stewardship of schools and the economy.
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In the recall, voters will be asked two questions: Should we recall Newsom and who should replace him? He cannot stand for the second ballot. Votes for this question will only be counted if more than half of voters want Newsom to disappear.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox, former Congressman Doug Ose and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner are among the Republicans vying to replace him.
For now, Democrats are united behind Newsom. The governor described the recall as an attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump on progressive California values, an argument that is proving important among Democrats.
Christine Pelosi, outgoing chair of the state party’s women’s caucus and daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Democrats are thrilled to stand up for the state’s progressive ideals. But she said Democrats need to show people what they’re for and stay focused on how they will help people recover from the pandemic.
“Our concern is that people won’t vote if they don’t think we’re talking about the realities of their lives,” Pelosi said.
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Beyond Newsom and Harris, delegates will hear from former Gov. Jerry Brown, Pelosi, former Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Alex Padilla, whom Newsom has appointed to replace Harris on Saturday.
Padilla will be up for election in 2022.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who rarely attends state party conventions, will not deliver remarks. She has faced criticism and scrutiny over her suitability for a post and has never been loved by progressive party activists. In 2018, they approved his challenger.
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