Biden to campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom in California in final days before recall election
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to campaign in California for Gov. Gavin Newsom ahead of next Tuesday's recall election as Democrats look to stave off a damaging Republican upset.
The White House said Thursday that Biden will campaign in Long Beach, California on Monday after surveying wildfire damage in Sacramento earlier in the day.
His stop 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. His opponents turned over more than a million petition signatures to California's secretary of state, forcing the state to put the recall effort on the ballot.
The recall ballot for California voters asks two questions: Do they want to recall Newsom, yes or no? And 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. The candidate who finishes with the most votes would be the winner in that scenario.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.