Why Jews should oppose the California gubernatorial recall
Republicans nationwide spent millions to push California to spend $215 million on the Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom. Just because outside interests can pay professional signature gatherers to prompt a ballot initiative or a recall election doesn’t necessarily mean their efforts are wrong or misguided. But examining how California is faring compared with the rest of the country, and the candidates running to replace Newsom, there don’t appear to be many reasons to support his recall.
There are a multitude of reasons the Jewish community should vote “no” on the recall, and not only because the effort was run by activists with ties to militia groups that frequently use Nazi imagery to promote their campaign. Nor should Jews simply vote “no” because the candidates running to replace Newsom are a scary bunch — including a group of Trump sycophants: 2018 failed gubernatorial candidate John Cox (who was served with a subpoena during a live public debate on Aug. 17), bombastic talk show host Larry Elder and reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner. Other dubious candidates include far-right Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, and Kevin Paffrath, a “Democrat” with no actual Democratic Party support.
Rather, Jewish voters should vote “no” because Newsom is actually doing a decent job representing us and our values. COVID-19 Delta variant cases have skyrocketed throughout the South and devastated “no mask” states such as Texas and Florida, which have more new cases per day than California. California’s new cases per capita are below the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control, California has had fewer cases per 100,000 residents than all the West Coast, Southwest and Southern states. The state boasts the highest vaccine utilization rates with more than 80% of Californians having received at least one vaccination dose and, during the pandemic, California and cities within the state have provided rent support and help for small businesses. Masks, vaccines and smart health policies are working and our economy is still the fifth-largest in the world.
Newsom is a strong ally for the Jewish community. When far-left extremists tried to implement an ethnic studies program in 2020 that was far more expansive in scope than the legislation required and contained multiple antisemitic sources, Newsom vetoed the bill and worked with the Jewish Legislative Caucus along with other groups to demand a more inclusive curriculum that focused on African Americans, Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. The amended curriculum also expunged Jewish stereotypes, antisemitic references and included lesson plans around antisemitism and the Ashkenazi, Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish experience.
Newsom also is a strong defender of the Jewish community and Jewish institutions. He immediately denounced an attack on several Jewish diners by apparent Palestinian supporters in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles in May, which occurred during Palestinian-Israeli hostilities in the Mideast. As the Jewish Legislative Caucus has noted, Newsom has made major investments in the Jewish community, including $65 million for the state’s nonprofit Security Grant Program to keep synagogues safe; $13.5 million for Jewish museums and libraries, including the L.A. Museum of Tolerance and the Holocaust Museum LA; $23 million to repair Jewish day camps damaged by the 2018 Woolsey and the 2017 Tubbs fires; $14.8 million for the Multipurpose Seniors Program; and $5.7 million for Jewish Family Service LA’s SOVA food bank program.
As the Jewish Legislative Caucus has noted, Newsom has made major investments in the Jewish community, including $65 million for the state’s nonprofit Security Grant Program to keep synagogues safe and $13.5 million for Jewish museums and libraries, including the L.A. Museum of Tolerance and the Holocaust Museum LA.
Newsom also appointed Alex Padilla to the U.S. Senate — a longtime, ardent supporter of Israel. And if California’s other Senate seat becomes vacant, Newsom would appoint a pro-Israel Democrat to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein, thus maintaining the Democratic majority in the Senate.
Newsom also has fought for our values, for protecting the environment, responding to climate change, helping protect working Californians and seniors, and keeping us safe and healthy during these uncertain times. Not a single gubernatorial candidate has proposed policies around these issues.
The Jewish community has an ally in Newsom. We cannot afford to lose his leadership and trade it in for any of these unpredictable, far-right candidates that are out of sync with our values. Recall ballots are due Sept. 14, after Rosh Hashanah and right before Yom Kippur. Reflecting on how far we’ve come during these trying times and what is at risk, we should send our ballots to vote “no” before the Sept. 14 deadline.
Andrew Lachman is a technology attorney, a Truman security partner and president of Democrats for Israel California, an alliance of six Jewish Democratic clubs in California.