San Antonio Express-News (Sunday)

Newsom’s tactic in Calif. recall: Beat ‘Trumpism’

- By Shawn Hubler

SACRAMENTO — As the campaign to oust him heads into its final weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California is hammering home the choice he has presented to voters since the start of the recall — Donald Trump or him.

“We defeated Trump last year, and thank you, but we haven’t defeated Trumpism,” Newsom has repeated for the past two weeks in a blitz of campaign stops and Zoom calls. From vaccine resistance to climate denial, he says, everything that terrified California liberals about the past president is on the ballot. And far more than his own personal future hangs in the balance: “This is a matter of life and death.”

His opponents dispute that. Newsom, they say, is the problem, and the recall never would have come to an election had a critical mass of the state not resented his pandemic restrictio­ns

on businesses and classrooms, even as his own finances were secure and his own children got inperson instructio­n. Trump, they note, is not a candidate.

“Newsom is scaremonge­ring,” David Sacks, a Silicon Valley venture

capitalist supporting the recall, tweeted recently.

Newsom and the Democratic establishm­ent are presenting the effort as a radical power grab, with some partisans even comparing it at one point to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

By invoking Trump as his opponent of choice, Newsom is reprising a message he has used in the past to blunt criticism effectivel­y, while also testing a strategy likely to be echoed by Democrats seeking to mobilize voters in midterm races across the country next year.

In effect, the leader California­ns elected in a 2018 landslide is running less on the Democratic policies of a Democratic incumbent than on an urgent if familiar call to action against an existentia­l threat to blue state values.

Polls suggest Newsom is making his case and has pulled ahead of his opponents — an abrupt focusing of Democratic minds after likely voters indicated this summer that the race might be tightening. A survey released Sept. 1 by the Public Policy Institute of California found that only 39 percent of likely voters, mostly Republican, support the recall, while 58 percent plan to vote no.

 ?? Jim Wilson / New York Times ?? Vice President Kamala Harris joins California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week at a rally opposing his recall.
Jim Wilson / New York Times Vice President Kamala Harris joins California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week at a rally opposing his recall.

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