Calif Gov Newsom appears to be retreating on COVID restriction as recall petition signatures surge

Even in a one-party state like California, stupidity, arrogance, and incompetence can undo the political career of a governor who seemed to have all the ingredients for a run at the White House.  Not too long ago, Gavin Newsom was considered as a serious presidential contender in 2024 and beyond for Democrats: movie star handsome, able to tap the largest pool of deep-pocketed Democrat donors, and pals with the Big Tech and Hollywood titans that dominate the nation's flow of information.

Gavin "Pretty Boy" Newsom.
Photo credit: Gage SkidmoreCC By-SA 3.0 license.

But after a series of blunders revealing the aforementioned stupidity, arrogance, and incompetence, Newsom is fighting for his political life in the face of a recall petition that already has garnered 80% of the signatures necessary for a recall election to be conducted by the state.  Bradford Betz of Fox News reports:

A recall campaign to oust California Gov. Gavin Newsom is nearing its required threshold to qualify for a statewide ballot. 

Over the weekend, recall organizers said they have collected 1.2 million of the needed 1.5 million signatures needed by March 17 to qualify for a ballot. (snip)

Rescue California, one of two main groups organizing the campaign, says their goal is to collect 2 million signatures to account for the fact that many of the signatures will inevitably prove invalid. 

San Diego's KUSI reported Saturday that California's Secretary of State has confirmed 84% of the signatures collected so far are valid.

The immediate spark of the surge in signatures was the release of photographs of Newsom attending a lavish birthday party at the French Laundry in the Napa Valley, one of the most famous and expensive restaurants in America, with no mask and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with his pals, including the honoree for the occasion, a lobbyist.  This in defiance of the lockdown orders he had imposed on lesser Californians.  As I wrote at the time:

The very same man who told us that when dining out we should put a mask on in between bites, that we should have no more than ten people (from no more than three households) at our outdoor Thanksgiving celebrations, was spotted and photographed violating all of his strictures on the rest of us.

His smirking apology, falsely claiming that the party was outdoors, despite photographs showing a chandelier above the table, made matters worse.  Even the New York Times was appalled, publishing an op-ed titled "Gavin Newsom, what were you thinking?"

Symbolically rich though that arrogance may have been, substantively, Newsom has been an even bigger disaster.  He was the first to order a statewide lockdown last March, and that and subsequent orders have been devastating to small businesses, while based on no scientific evidence.  For instance, he suddenly and arbitrarily banned outdoor dining at restaurants after many had invested heavily in creating heated outdoor spaces, and stocking up on perishable foodstuffs, only to see those precious  resources wasted as the guv changed his mind.

In a display of unbelievable arrogance last Friday, the state bureaucracy he commands refused to release data on the state's COVID policies.  The AP reports:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has from the start said his coronavirus policy decisions would be driven by data shared with the public to provide maximum transparency.

But with the state starting to emerge from its worst surge, his administration won't disclose key information that will help determine when his latest stay-at-home order is lifted.

State health officials said they rely on a very complex set of measurements that would confuse and potentially mislead the public if they were made public.

Translation: You're too stupid to understand our complex calculations, so shut up and obey.

At around the same time as the state refused to release its data (as had been promised) came the news that California has the worst record of distributing vaccines in the entire nation:

Good news: California has gotten better at administering its available COVID-19 vaccines, going from a 27.5% usage rate last week to a 37.3% usage rate this week.

Bad news: Other states have also picked up the pace, and California now ranks 50th out of 50 states in percentage of shots used ...

Of the nation's six largest states, California remains the only one with a usage rate below 40%, as was the case last week.

Newsom seems to realize that he is in deep trouble.  Just out this morning via Fox News:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to make an announcement on Monday lifting his state's COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, which would allow for restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining, according to multiple reports. 

The order will be lifted in all regions of the state, according to a letter sent from the California Restaurant Association (CRA) to its members. 

The letter, dated on Sunday, said senior officials in the Newsom administration confirmed the upcoming decision with the association. 

The many restaurants, especially smaller, family-owned places, that have closed their doors forever will not be able to take advantage of Newsom's latest flip-flop.

While I disagree with Newsom on many public policy issues, I lost all respect for the man almost a decade and a half ago when he was mayor of San Francisco and married to Kimberly Guilfoyle, and it became public that he had been conducting an affair with the wife of his best friend (and former top aide, then, at the time, his campaign manager).

Such a man is not fit for any public office in my book, or any position of trust at all.  Too bad that voters did not draw the same lesson at the time.  But Gavin Newsom has always been a bit of a made man when it comes to California politics, and the state's media have never really gone after him the way they would after any conservative.  Perhaps a successful recall would finally put an end to his career.  After all, ever since former Democrat governor Gray Davis was recalled, little has been heard of him.