California News

Vice President Pushes Back Against Effort to Recall Newsom

Vice President Kamala Harris warned California voters that the values they hold dear were under dire threat

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing an upcoming recall election, addressees a crowd at a phone bank event organized by the Latino Task Force, in San Francisco, on Sept. 7, 2021. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

By Jill Cowan, The New York Times

Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday warned voters in her home state of California that the values they hold dear were under dire threat from conservatives like those in Texas and Georgia, who have restricted voting rights, mishandled the pandemic and infringed on women’s rights.

And only her friend, Gov. Gavin Newsom, she said, stood in the way.

“You have to understand this recall campaign is about California and it’s about a whole lot more,” she said. “They think if they can win in California, they can win anywhere.”

Harris stood before a small, but ardent crowd at a union training center in San Leandro, a small, diverse suburb south of Oakland, where Harris was born.

The vice president is the highest profile Democrat to join Gov. Gavin Newsom so far as he fights to keep his job in the face of a Republican-led effort to oust him from office. Voters have been casting ballots by mail and in person ahead of Election Day on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden has said he will come to California to support Newsom, but he has not announced specific plans, while other Democratic heavyweights, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have appeared in television ads warning voters about a Republican takeover of the nation’s biggest blue stronghold.

Former President Barack Obama added his name to the list of supporters later Wednesday with a video message for voters.

But of those national figures, the vice president has the closest ties to the governor. Both forged their careers in San Francisco — she as district attorney and he as mayor — before ascending to statewide office.

On Wednesday, Harris cited their time working together as she made a personal case on Newsom’s behalf.

“I’ve known him a long time.” she said. “He doesn’t hear, ‘It can’t be done. It’s not possible.’ Gavin doesn’t hear that.”

Newsom has in the final weeks of the campaign portrayed the recall effort as one led by right-wing extremists who doubt the existence of climate change, have imperiled workers by resisting pandemic restrictions and have advocated for anti-immigrant and anti-woman policies.

He has found a rich target in the leading candidate to oppose him, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who has said employers should be able to ask women about their reproductive plans and has vowed to immediately lift all pandemic mandates if he is elected governor.

Elder, the front-running Republican challenger, was attacked Wednesday morning by egg-throwing hecklers in Venice Beach.

Chie Lunn, a neighborhood activist and parent who was giving Elder a tour of the beachfront homeless encampments, said she was standing next to the talk radio host outside Gold’s Gym when a woman in a gorilla mask and a local man who lives in his vehicle and promotes van life unleashed a volley of eggs at the candidate around 11:45 a.m. as the tour was ending.

Video posted on Twitter showed Elder, trailed by cameras, climbing into a white SUV as a handful of people chased him. It was not clear whether he was hit. One reason Newsom should be recalled, Elder has argued, is that homelessness and crime in California are out of hand.

Harris’ speech bridged what she and other Democrats have said are the national partisan stakes of the vote and Newsom’s leadership during the pandemic.

She said Newsom has led a successful vaccination campaign — more successful than many she has seen as she’s traveled the world. Newsom, she said, has been responsive to “the plight of working people,” and has protected immigrants’ rights.

“This is why they’re putting so many resources and time in trying to take out Gavin Newsom,” she said. “It’s because of his agenda, it’s because of who he fights for, so we’re here today to fight for Gavin Newsom.”

She said that both she and her husband, Doug Emhoff, have already voted by mail.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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