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Originally posted on San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board has never thought proponents of recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom had much of a case. Newsom has a checkered record, and in some cases can be faulted for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the sharp recession it triggered. He also hasn’t laid a glove on the state’s housing or homelessness problems. But Newsom also has no record of corruption or chronic incompetence. The pandemic, the housing shortage and homelessness are all massive headaches that would daunt any governor.

Yet a new poll this week suggests that the prospect he will be recalled on Sept. 14 is larger than previously assumed. Emerson College and Nexstar Media’s Inside California Politics found 43 percent of state voters backed a recall, 48 percent were opposed and 9 percent were undecided. Given that the intensity of Newsom’s critics seems much stronger than the intensity of his supporters, that makes the former group more likely to vote than the latter. The same poll also found that 58 percent of Californians hoped a new governor would be elected in 2022. So much for the conventional wisdom that Newsom is a promising future Democratic presidential candidate or likely successor to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

And Newsom’s hope that he will be saved by having undistinguished possible replacements on the recall ballot — starting with former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox — also took a hit. Larry Elder, a smart, deeply knowledgeable Black conservative radio host, qualified for the ballot and took the lead among Republicans in the Emerson-Nexstar poll. The Sept. 14 recall election no longer seems ho-hum.

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