Facing recall, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has Jewish caucus in his corner

Gabe Stutman

A version of this story originally ran in J: The Jewish News of Northern California.

Calling California Gov. Gavin Newsom a “friend and ally” to the Jewish community, members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus spoke out in a unified show of support for the governor on Tuesday as he faced an increasingly likely recall vote.

With just under 1.5 million valid signatures needed to trigger a recall vote, the petition against Newsom had nearly 1.2 million authorized signatures as of March 19, according to the secretary of state’s office. Recall proponents said they had turned in more than 2.1 million and were waiting for verification.

Newsom’s supporters are raising money and bumping up ad spending on behalf of the first-term Democratic governor and former San Francisco mayor.

Members of the state’s 18-member Jewish caucus, all Democrats, convened online to voice support for the governor on issues relevant to the Jewish community and to the caucus. Newsom has been a “trusted friend, ally and partner,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel of Woodland Hills, an upscale neighborhood in Los Angles.

Gabriel pointed to the governor’s decision to increase security spending after the 2019 Chabad of Poway shooting that killed one person and injured three, authorizing a $15 million infusion into the state’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

Newsom announced that funding during an event in Sacramento alongside Holocaust survivors.

“The governor seized that moment to stand with our community,” Gabriel said.

The caucus is urging Newsom to commit again to spending on the security grant program for nonprofits, though he did not allocate money for the program in an early budget draft.

The Jewish legislators said they oppose the recall effort in part because of its ties to fringe political movements. They also see the effort as  superfluous with Newsom up for reelection in 2022.

“This recall is a waste of time and this recall is a waste of money, at a time when we should all be uniting together to get ourselves out of this pandemic,” said Josh Becker, a recently elected state senator representing Northern California’s San Mateo County.

Gabriel estimated that a special election would cost the state up to $100 million.

The Anti-Defamation League has raised concerns about some of the Nazi imagery used by recall proponents, including images of Newsom with a Hitler mustache and comparisons to Nazi Germany.

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