Gavin Newsom gives his opening statement at a governor debate last year in San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Gov. Gavin Newsom is blasting a San Diego physician’s attempt to remove him from office even before any recall petitions are signed.

In a response filed Tuesday with the Secretary of State’s Office, Newsom criticizes what he calls an “unwarranted recall effort” that would cost taxpayers $81 million.

“It is being pushed by political extremists supporting President Trump’s hateful attacks on California,” says his response, posted on the website of Californians to Recall Gavin Newsom.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response to notice of intention to launch a recall drive. (PDF)

La Jolla’s James Veltmeyer, a two-time Republican candidate for Congress who launched the recall process, said in a statement: “Gavin Newsom has responded to our Notice by failing to address the issues we raised. Instead, he engages in threatening and inflammatory rhetoric that seeks to divide Californians and inflame and incite his radical left-wing followers.”

Andrew Russo, a spokesman for the group, says proponents have raised “well into five figures so far and are raising money from small donors every day through our website.”

The website includes a store selling hats ($25), T-shirts ($18-$24), buttons, stickers and “drinkware.” The store is based on a domain — campaignresources.net — registered Wednesday and declares: “All sales here benefit the campaign, and help spread the message.”

But financial records of the group’s fundraising committee have yet to be filed with the state.

Asked when they would appear on the Secretary of State’s website, Russo said via email: “I would need to check with the [committee] treasurer on that.”

(In late July, Veltmeyer emailed supporters: “This will be an expensive campaign. We will need to raise at least $10 million in the next few months. Newsom will have tens of millions of dollars available to him from the public employee unions and other extreme left-wing special interests.”)

The Secretary of State’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Russo says the earliest date for a recall election would be July 3, 2020.*

Nearly 1.5 million valid signatures would be needed to force a recall election — the first of a California governor since 2003, when Republican Arnold Schwarzanegger ousted Democrat Gray Davis.

Veltmeyer says he hopes he gets state approval to circulate recall petitions by Aug. 25. Once the state OKs the wording of petitions, the drive has 160 days to collect signatures of registered voters. Early February would be the deadline.

“The people of California can’t afford to have this process delayed for political gamesmanship,” he said. “The SOS needs to move forward on approving so that the voters of this state can have the final say on Newsom’s destructive policies.”

For his part, Newsom noted his November election “by historic margins” and said he’s made good on promises to increase funding for public education, “protect and secure your health care,” improve water, roads and bridges and prepare California for wildfire threats.

“Our budget is balanced. our reserves are unprecedented,” he said. “Our state economy and employment have hit historic highs. Yet a handful of partisan activists supporting President Trump and his dangerous agenda to divide America are trying to overturn the definitive will of California voters and bring Washington’s broken government to California with this recall effort.”

He concluded his response by saying the last thing California needs is another wasteful special election “supported by those who demonize California’s people and attack California’s values.”

Newsom says police officers, firefighters, public school teachers, health providers and business leaders “all STRONGLY OPPOSE this costly recall.”

According to Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s website: “For a recall of a statewide officer, a petition must be signed by registered voters equal in number to 12% of the last vote for the office. Signatures must be obtained from at least five different counties and must be equal in number to at least 1% of the last vote for the office in each of five counties.”

With 12,464,235 people voting in November, Newsom defeated Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox 61.9% to 38.1% — so 1.496 million signatures would be needed.

The state Constitution says a recall election may be conducted within 180 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures — consolidated with the next regularly scheduled election.

The recall store is hedging its bets, however.

“The website disclaims any responsibility for the accuracy of the content of this website,” says its Terms of Use page. “Visitors assume the all risk of viewing, reading, using or relying upon this information. Unless you have otherwise formed an express contract to the contrary with the website, you have no right to rely on any information contained herein as accurate. The website makes no such warranty.”

It also bars anyone from linking to the site without OK.

“You are not allowed to reference the url (website address) of this website in any commercial or non-commercial media without express permission,” it states.

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly said July 3, 2020, was the deadline for securing petition signatures.

Updated at 11 a.m. Aug. 17, 2019

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