Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media 

A broad coalition of California women are banding together to support Gov. Gavin Newsom as he fights to fend off a recall effort that could mar his legacy and throw him out of office in a little over a month. 

Members of the group, dubbing itself Women Against the Recall (WAR), say they are not going to allow Gov. Gavin Newsom to be overthrown in the special election scheduled for Sept. 14. California U.S. Congresswomen Karen Bass (D-CA-13) and Barbara Lee (D-CA-37), who are both supporting WAR, joined a press conference Aug. 9 to make the case for Newsom. 

Aimee Allison, founder of She The People, an Oakland-based political advocacy group, hosted the briefing. 

“We are all against the Republican-led recall because we know that the health of our children, neighbors, and communities depend on Gov. Newsom’s continued leadership,” Lee said at the onset of the virtual event hosted by WAR. “Congresswoman Bass and I decided that any successful, political event must have women on the front lines, especially women of color.” 

The women of WAR come from diverse backgrounds and bring their support for Newsom from different regions of the state. But, organizers say, they remain united by a common goal: to mobilize a statewide grassroots movement that defeats the recall effort. 

More than 1,000 women, representing themselves or different organizations across the state, signed a letter composed by WAR opposing the recall. Over the next few weeks, WAR’s leaders say, their group will focus on providing voter education and conducting get-out-the-vote campaigns. 

Newsom, who participated in the WAR event, said that he was “humbled” by the support from the 70 different groups that signed on to the letter. He told attendees that “our values and the things we hold dear” are at stake in the recall election. 

“The one thing that sticks out in particular as a list of grievances who inspired this was our support (Democratic party) for diverse communities,” Newsom said. “Our support for immigrants, our support for doing more and being better. It’s about each and every one of us.” 

WAR volunteers say, in their upcoming messaging campaigns, they will explain to Californians what recall election is, and why, in their opinion, why there is a movement to recall Gov. Newsom two years after he was elected to the highest office in the state. 

Many Democrats are blaming Republicans for the attempt to recall Newsom, citing the state’s progressive politics and trailblazing steps it has taken to foster inclusion and address longstanding inequalities suffered by ethnic and racial minorities.  

Republican candidates vying to unseat Newsom include former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, Assemblymember Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), former United States Congressman Doug Ose, and the 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Cox. 

“Lacking any crimes or accusations of impropriety, (the members of the Republican party) are trying to punish the Governor for following the advice of scientists to promote mask-wearing and social distancing,” WAR said in a written statement. 

WAR continued, “(But) let’s be honest, though, this recall campaign is not about the Governor’s handling of COVID. It’s about an anti-democratic, political attack launched by the Republican Party who is exploiting the fear and pain of the COVID pandemic to claw back power after being rejected by the American people in the 2020 election.” 

The recall election will determine Newsom’s fate in less than 35 days and could potentially result in the selection of a new governor on the same day from a list of 46 candidates. 

“Those who think this thing is not close I’d hate to disabuse you…it is,” Newsom said during the virtual discussion that went on for about two hours. 

During a news conference last week, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said the ballot will ask two questions: Do the voters want to recall Newsom, and if so, who do they want to replace the governor. 

If 50 percent or more of the ballots are no votes, Weber said, Newsom stays on as governor. If 50 percent or more say yes, then he is recalled. 

WAR fears a lot is at stake. The group’s leaders say they dread what could happen if the next governor of the state is a Republican. 

“Although we began as a nationwide ‘Secure the Seat’ effort to build partners and allies to support increased representation of Black women in the US Senate, we quickly realized this would not be possible without ensuring we have a Democratic governor in California,” WAR pointed out in a statement to the media. “If we lose California, we could potentially lose our majority in the Senate if anything happened to either of our Senators.”

(Photo source: Screen shot from Zoom)