By Ken Stone
Channeling anger over the halt to state executions, Carl DeMaio says he wants to commission a “scientific, unbiased” statewide poll to see if voters have an appetite to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In an email Friday from his Reform California PAC, the former San Diego councilman said a “favorable poll is CRUCIAL to getting major donors to back this.”
DeMaio provides a link to a fundraising page, which notes contributions are not tax-deductible.(The email also says: “An unfavorable poll is equally helpful in explaining to supporters why we need to focus on other lines of attack.”)
On his KOGO radio show Thursday, DeMaio explained the recall process and detailed his ultimate goal — ending the Democratic Party’s supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly.
“The forces of good are few and far between in California,” DeMaio said in a video of the show posted on Facebook.
He defined the “forces of bad” as academia, the media, labor unions, billionaires and Democrats, saying they have significant resources and outspend Republicans in elections, “so we have to be very ninja-like and strategic.”
DeMaio’s PAC succeeded in getting the gas-tax repeal on the November ballot. (Proposition 6 lost 56.8 percent to 43.2 percent), but it needed only 584,000 signatures to qualify.
To get a Newsom recall on the ballot — in November 2020, instead of a too-soon March — nearly 1.87 million signatures would be needed, he said. And given the number typically excluded, his effort would have to secure 2.6 million voter signatures.
Newsom won 7.72 million votes in defeating Republican John Cox, the Rancho Santa Fe businessman, 61.9 percent to 38.1 percent. (Cox was backed by 4.74 million voters.)
DeMaio said he’d ultimately focus on 12 “moderate” Assembly and Senate districts that should be represented by a Republican.
“What I want to do — and this is my pledge — we’re going to end the Democrats’ supermajority — if we play our cards right,” he said. “Ending the supermajority may be as consequential in providing safeguards for taxpayers.”
Last month, Reform California targeted four Democratic senators and eight Assembly members as “Water Tax Weaklings” who he said support a drinking-water tax proposal — and could be recalled the way Orange County Sen. Josh Newman was in June 2018 for his backing the gas tax.
DeMaio said the poll would be conducted by Remington Polling Research, which employs live interviews and cost-saving interactive voice response methods — robopolls.
Media Bias Factcheck rates Remington, founded by GOP consultant Jeff Roe, as “high” in factual reporting but with a “right-center” bias.
But FiveThirtyEight.com pollster ratings give Remington a grade of C for accuracy and methodology.
DeMaio said the poll would point out Newsom’s support of the water tax and that he “overturned the death penalty without a public vote.”
“Knowing this, do you think we should recall him?” DeMaio said of the final question. “Asking the question that way should give us our best opportunity — because we’re actually making the case.”
Local political observer Carl Luna, a San Diego Mesa College professor, said a recall campaign would “very likely” be launched but it wouldn’t be successful unless Newsom commits worse transgressions than the death penalty moratorium.
“Death penalty support is tepid and declining as crime declines and the long gaps between death sentences being carried out grow,” he said. “But the recall campaign itself gives conservatives a flag to rally around heading into 2020, even if, like the Wall, it’s never going to happen.”
If ultimately launched, it would be the first California governor recall since Democrat Gray Davis was ousted in 2003 and Arnold Schwarzenegger installed.
“You can ride this pony into the 2020 campaign,” Luna said, but called it highly unlikely that GOP/conservative donors would divert $5 million-$20 million into a “low chance” recall campaign during a presidential year.
DeMaio says donations to Reform California average $35, with 29,000 recent donors.
But Luna said via email: “If you wanted to really do this, you’d need to do it now.”
Newsom’s office and state GOP and Democratic Party officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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