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The California Gubernatorial Recall Election Is Just A Few Days Out


There are just about three days left for California voters to weigh in on the recall against Governor Gavin Newsom. He's a Democrat and faces a long list of challengers eyeing his seat in Tuesday's election, both Republicans and Democrats. The recall has drawn the attention of prominent Democrats outside the state as well, who are campaigning in support of the governor. Nicole Nixon, with Cap Radio in Sacramento, joins us now to tell us more. Good morning, Nicole.

NICOLE NIXON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what are the governor and his allies doing to convince people to support him in this final stretch here?

NIXON: Well, one thing they're doing is bringing in national Democrats. President Biden will be in Long Beach to campaign with Newsom tomorrow. And Vice President Kamala Harris was in the Bay Area with him last week. And other party leaders, like former President Obama, have done messages on social media and ads urging people to vote no. Here's Obama.


BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Californians. You've got a big choice to make by September 14. Governor Newsom has spent the past year and a half protecting California communities. Now, Republicans are trying to recall him from office.

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: And Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent a message to voters on Instagram while she was on the road. Here she is.


NIXON: Now, listen, if you live in California, there's probably a ballot in your mailbox on a recall election. Please find that thing. Vote no. Stick that sucker right back in your mailbox.

NIXON: One other thing Democrats have been doing is linking this recall to Trumpism and to the national Republican agenda on issues like reproductive rights and voting access. The leading candidate to replace Newsom is a conservative talk radio host named Larry Elder. He's a Trump supporter. And he's been getting a lot of scrutiny for comments he's made in the past. He's said things like companies shouldn't have to provide maternity leave and that people who owned slaves are the ones who deserved reparations. So Newsom is able to point to those things and say, this is the person who would be governor if the recall is successful.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what is the wider message here from the folks who actually want Newsom out?

NIXON: Well, let's go back before the pandemic first because that's actually when this recall was filed. And it started with complaints that Newsom paused the death penalty and that he was too friendly toward undocumented immigrants here in California. And that list of complaints has grown a lot since then. Business owners have been criticizing his pandemic rules. And there's also things like spiking homicide rates and homelessness, which consistently tops voters' list of concerns here. This is Anne Dunsmore. She's with Rescue California, which is a pro-recall group. And she was touring the state in recent days, urging people to vote Newsom out.

ANNE DUNSMORE: He says that homelessness is on decline. It's not. We're No. 1 in the nation. If you don't recognize a problem, you won't fix it.

NIXON: And Newsom's critics say the governor makes a lot of flashy announcements. And he budgets a lot of money for issues like homelessness. But he really doesn't have a lot to show for it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Past polls did show this race was looking a little too close for comfort for Newsom, which is, I guess, why they brought in all these national Democrats. But what are they showing now that we are just a few days out?

NIXON: Yeah, you're right. About a month ago, several polls showed that Democrats weren't really paying attention to the recall and that Republicans were more fired up and were more likely to vote. And that meant that, unless Newsom could get his base to show up, he would be in trouble. Now, more recent polling shows the governor will likely defeat this. And the ballot return data we've seen so far backs that up. Every voter got a ballot in the mail for this election. And more than half the ballots that have been turned back in so far have been from Democrats. Now, one caveat here is that Republicans tend to favor in-person voting. And they've had less time to do that. So those numbers may shift, but it is a lot of ground for Republicans to make up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Nicole Nixon of Cap Radio in Sacramento. Thank you so much.

NIXON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.