In a state that has been slammed by homelessness, rising crime, raging wildfires and exorbitant housing prices, Newsom’s performance had been under intense scrutiny when 2020 arrived. Then came Covid-19 and the closures of public schools and many businesses, which angered many Californians and put Newsom on defense.
Volunteers took to the streets and gathered 2.1 million signatures to get the issue on the ballot.
Newsom gave the recall forces fuel in November when he was caught dining maskless with lobbyists at a dinner at The French Laundry, a tony Napa Valley restaurant, just as he was urging Californians to avoid gatherings and wear face coverings. The move energized pro-recall forces — which won a key extension to collect signatures — and eventually moved 46 candidates to add their names to the ballot.
The recall included some wild and wacky moments, including Republican John Cox’s move to introduce a live, 1,000-pound Kodiak Bear named Tag as his campaign’s mascot. Many of his ads starred Tag, and Cox framed the election as a choice between “Beauty” (Newsom) and “The Beast” (Cox).