The California governor’s days could be limited thanks to a growing effort to invoke a statewide referendum.
A campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is picking up steam after individual donors offered tens of thousands of dollars each and they scored $500,000 from an Irvine-based consulting firm.
Prov 3:9 LLC contributed $500,000, and Sequoia Capital's Douglas Leone and his wife Patricia Perkins-Leone contributed roughly $100,000.
Since 1911, Californians have attempted to recall their governor 55 times, but were successful only in 2003 against Gov. Gray Davis, who was ousted in a special election. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected to replace Davis as governor.
Fed up with the Democratic governor’s shutdown orders, which some found erratic, Rescue California organized to circulate petitions that call for Newsom’s governorship to be recalled and a special election to take place, well before the next governor’s race in November 2022. Newsom, currently in his first term, has not yet said if he plans to run again.
Rescue California needs a minimum 1,495,709 valid signatures to recall the governor, and the group says it’s collected some 800,000 so far.
Thomas Liu, listed as the manager of Prov 3:9, told Politico: "We have our beliefs in terms of the direction the state needs to go, and we felt that this effort was worthy of our contribution."
The effort to recall Newsom was launched on June 10. In November, a judge extended the signature deadline to March 17, 2021, after supporters argued their deadline should be extended 120 days due to COVID-19 hindering their efforts.
Anne Dunsmore, the campaign manager and finance director of Rescue California 2021, told Fox News earlier this month that the effort was a "citizen tide" against the missteps Newsom had taken during the pandemic.
"Closing the beaches and closing the parks really was the beginning, that I saw on the ground, of the beginning of the end for him, as far as people taking the recall stuff seriously," Dunsmore said.
Newsom received high praise for his aggressive approach to the coronavirus last spring, when he issued the nation's first statewide stay-at-home order. But the public grew weary over subsequent health orders that have shuttered schools and businesses and a massive unemployment benefits fraud scandal.
Dunsmore said things came to a head with the governor’s ill-advised dinner at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, an establishment that features a white truffle and caviar dinner for $1,200 per person.
Photos of the dinner – a birthday party for a Newsom confidante who also is a lobbyist – emerged showing the governor without a mask at a time when he was imploring people not to socialize with friends and wear a face covering when going out and being around others.
Harmeet Dhillon, co-chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association, similarly argued that the governor’s hypocrisy has fueled a general discontent in California that has allowed the recall effort to gain momentum.
"I think with a full three months plus left to go and with people all over California in both parties being very angry at the governor, particularly with his hypocrisy, particular with the fact that his children get to get educated and everybody else’s largely do not in most urban areas, these are the things that are fueling discontent here in California," Dhillon said. "The hypocrisy of allowing lobbyists secured exemptions – like film crews get to operate, but restaurants don’t get to operate – these types of inequities are really fueling the energy behind this grassroots movement."
Fox News' Bradford Betz contributed to this report.