California Governor Seat Available For the Taking

California+Governor+Seat+Available+For+the+Taking

Owen Hite, Nolan Hosbein, Daniel Lubliner, Reporter, Page Editor

The 2022 race for California Governor is shaping up to be an interesting contest. Current California Governor Gavin Newsom has been under fire for months after the “Recall Newsom” movement began to gain traction. The movement originated as a Republican-led effort to remove Newsom from office, and was relatively unheard of before the COVID-19 pandemic took the state and world by storm. Newsom’s public image took multiple hits during the lockdowns, the biggest being his maskless appearance at the luxury Yountville restaurant The French Laundry. Many California residents felt that Newsom’s trip to the French Laundry was hypocritical; after all, his previous public health guidelines warned against the dangers of dining out. Newsom’s hypocrisy resulted in the growth of a political movement centered around a mutual desire to remove California’s Governor from office. Signs now line the 101 and other major highways with bold font spelling out “Recall Newsom.” 

With the 2022 recall being the first election that many seniors will participate in, the governor’s handling of education will likely have a substantial role in his reelection hopes. In fact, Newsom’s fluid stance on education as he flipped from restricting in-person schooling to eventually offering districts billions of dollars to depart from distance learning has sparked uncertainty among Californians about his fitness to lead the state through the pandemic. Senior Kieran Cross expresses how he believes Newsom’s handling of COVID-19 has affected California’s learning environment.

“I feel like he’s been playing [the COVID-19 crisis] very safe for a lot of different reasons and it’s resulted in lower quality education,” said Cross.

Cross’s views align with over 1.5 million Californians who turned in verified signatures on Newsom’s recall petition, with many believing that the governor’s controversiality will lead to a legitimate opportunity for outsider Republicans to make a bid at his seat. When Caitlyn Jenner, a prominent public figure and Olympian, announced her intention to run for Newsom’s seat in a recall election, it emphasized that the state (and opposition party) is set to act upon their criticisms of the governor. Senior Cameron Harding notes that this is a prime opportunity for the republican-aligned Jenner to flip a historically democratic state.

“If [Newsom] runs again it will provide an opportunity for Republicans like Jenner to win in a very blue state. She also believes in many human rights issues that many middle ground Democrats also agree with. This could lead to a much more red California, at least economically,” said Harding. 

Alternatively, Senior Kayla Vasquez believes that Jenner’s political hopes are less likely to succeed even with Newsom as her opponent.

“Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is Kanye running for president; it’s just a very unique publicity stunt. I don’t think she will ever be taken seriously enough to garner the votes of the people that care or matter. I think she will have no political impact,” said Vasquez.

Vasquez shifts her commentary to Gavin Newsom, focusing on his approach to governance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I don’t know much about his full term but I know that the way he’s chosen to deal with COVID makes him seem really negligent and unaware. His decisions put everyone at risk and disregard the way the pandemic has affected lower income people and minorities,” said Vasquez.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only subjected California and the U.S to a calamitous public health crisis, but it has illuminated and exacerbated the racial tensions existing in every echelon of American society. Vasquez offers her perspective on Newsom’s approach to reopening California in light of these tensions.

“I think we’re past the point of denying racial and class inequity when it comes to the way the pandemic is dealt with. What’s convenient for white people and the middle to upper class is going to be what the government strives for. Opening things up prematurely puts localized pressure on people who are already struggling, who didn’t have the option not to go into work. The effects that these policies have on those who are already disproportionately affected by the virus and pandemic shows that they were either not taken into consideration or disregarded entirely,” said Vasquez.

With controversial candidates such as Caitlyn Jenner and Gavin Newsom running for the California Governor seat, this upcoming election will be one to watch. Both candidates will need to overcome their respective reputations; for Jenner, this means proving she is more than a reality TV star attempting to gain political clout for publicity. Newsom, however, will need to appeal to a group of voters that felt dissatisfied by his initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, to win over voters that fall outside the domain of white and middle to upper class people, both candidates will need to demonstrate a willingness to mitigate the medical and economic impacts of the pandemic on disadvantaged communities. With the outcome of this impending election so uncertain, there is little for Californians to do but watch as these two candidates continue down the campaign trail.