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Details Of The Recall Election For Gavin Newsom


All right. Joining us now to walk through what we just heard from Governor Newsom is Scott Shafer, senior political editor at member station KQED in San Francisco.

Hi, Scott.


CHANG: All right. Let's just start with this massive budget surplus. How much of that is actually because of Governor Newsom's policies and management and how much of it was just outside his control?

SHAFER: Well, of that $76 billion surplus, $26 billion, about a third, is from the federal government. And then a huge part of the rest is revenue from personal income taxes from the wealthiest Californians who are, as you know, benefiting from the surging stock market. California has a very high tax rate on things like capital gains and money from stocks cashed in after companies go public.

So what we've seen over this past year, you know, the rich getting significantly richer while lower income folks, especially in the service and hospitality sectors, they've fallen further behind. And California does try to level that playing field a bit with higher income taxes on the wealthy, and we're seeing the result of that today.

To be clear, it's a tax system Gavin Newsom inherited. He didn't create it. That said, you know, Newsom has managed the state through an unprecedented series of crises, including the pandemic and wildfires. And the state seems to be on pretty good economic footing right now.

CHANG: OK. Let's turn to this recall effort. Obviously, more than 1.5 million registered voters were angry enough to sign a recall petition. How much political trouble would you say Newsom is actually in right now?

SHAFER: Well, certainly the state, as we just heard from the governor, is in a very different condition today than it was when people were signing those petitions months ago. Schools, businesses are mostly open or reopening. People are going back to work. The COVID-19 caseload is among the lowest per capita in the nation. That said, who knows what mood voters are going to be in when they vote on this recall later.

I should point out, though, that even in the depths of the pandemic, support for the recall never got above 40%. And Newsom's approval rating was about 50%. And you compare that to the last time a California governor faced a recall - Gray Davis in 2003 - his approval rating was below 30.

CHANG: Right. OK. Well, this recall is moving forward. Tell us what voters will be asked on the ballot.

SHAFER: It's a two-part ballot. First question simply - should Governor Gavin Newsom be recalled from office, yes or no? And then the second part is, if he's recalled, who should replace him? Newsom's name can't be on that list of options. Right now, no other Democrats are running. Three Democrats to know about - former San Diego Mayor Kevin Falkiner, a moderate; San Diego businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in a landslide in 2018; and Caitlyn Jenner, transgender reality TV show star. And, you know, by the way, they all supported Donald Trump, which isn't going to help in a state where he lost by Joe Biden 2 to 1.

CHANG: That is KQED's Scott Shafer in San Francisco.

Thank you, Scott.

SHAFER: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Shafer