WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to campaign in California for Gov. Gavin Newsom will campaign in California for Governor as Democrats try to prevent a devastating Republican upset.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Biden will visit California on behalf of Newsom early next week.
His trip comes after other top Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, campaigned for Newsom over the weekend and as Vice President Kamala Harris prepares to campaign in the Bay Area, her hometown, for Newsom on Wednesday.
A loss for Newsom in California – which hasn’t elected any Republican to statewide office since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006 – would be a brutal setback for the Democratic brand nationally 15 months before the 2022 midterm elections.
Conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder is considered the leading Republican in the race while a bid by television star Caitlyn Jenner failed to gain traction. Forty-six candidates qualified: 24 Republicans, nine Democrats, 10 with no party preference, two members of the Green Party and one Libertarian.
Polling suggests Newsom has an advantage, but an incumbent often faces a enthusiasm gap in recall elections. The majority of California’s, 52.4%, say they do not support removing Newsom, compared to 43.8%, who do support removal, according to the most recent Real Clear Politics average of polls.
Newsom faced criticism over restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting much of the momentum behind the recall effort. California’s secretary-of-state received more than one million petition signatures from his opponents, prompting the state to place the recall effort on its ballot.
The recall ballot for California voters asks two questions: Do they want to recall Newsom, yes or no? Who should replace him?
If the majority of voters don’t wish to recall Newsom, then he remains governor. But if more than 50% do want to replace him, then Newsom loses and the question shifts to his replacement. In this scenario, the candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.