Image Courtesy of The New York Times
By Renee Rasmussen
A dark cloud has taken over the sunny state of California as residents work to make the Recall Governor Gavin Newsom campaign a reality.
California was one of the first states to issue stay-at-home orders last March. It has also been one the most restrictive states and slowest to open back up. Californians suffered another lockdown beginning in December that has only begun to lighten in the past few weeks.
While prudent in the beginning, many business owners believe Newsom’s restrictions and guidelines are starting to do more harm than good with more than 40,000 small businesses being forced to close their doors in September. Even more shocking is the truth that half of these businesses have shut down permanently, a number that is higher than any other state in the United States.
California is slowly closing its doors, and residents and business owners have had enough.
It comes as no surprise that the campaign to recall Gov. Newsom has gathered more than a million signatures. The recall campaign has been funded by the Republican National Committee which has worked tirelessly to gather signatures and make sure they are verified.
According to the most recent report from the secretary of state, out of the 1.1 million signatures received, 798,310 were verified, and nearly 84% of those verified were valid. However, so far only signatures received by February 5 have been counted, and it is estimated that 1.7 million signatures have been gathered.
These numbers are promising for the recall campaign, with 1,495,709 valid signatures needed by March 17 for the recall to qualify to be placed on a voting ballot.
Randy Economy, the spokesman for the Recall Gavin Newsom campaign, attributes the rise in signatures to the photos that were released in November that showed Newsom having dinner at the French Laundry, a haute cuisine restaurant in Napa Valley, disregarding the guidelines he had set out for the state.
Although Newsom apologized for his behavior, this was the last straw for many Californians.
Not only are business owners frustrated by the hypocritical nature of Newsom, but also by the lack of explanations behind the guidelines he has set out. Andrew Gruel, who owns a local seafood restaurant chain, has been a leader of the movement to open California’s economy.
“None of the rules make sense,” Gruel said in an interview with The New York Times.
He then went on to explain that while his restaurant in Huntington Beach was not allowed to have dine-in services while outside even with social distancing protocols in effect, a Burger King inside the Walmart was allowed to stay open.
“And that was legal,” Gruel said. “It’s like W.W.E. in there, people cross-body blocking each other for B.K. delight.”
Perhaps even more disheartening, Angela Marsden, a local bar owner in Sherman Oaks, posted a video that quickly went viral where she showed a movie set with outdoor seating, which was considered an essential business, and then showed her new outdoor dining addition, which Newsom had just deemed unessential and not allowed.
Marsden, who was wearing a mask and nearly in tears on camera, went on to gather local business owners to figure out a strategy to survive the lockdowns. Meanwhile, Newsom has mostly ignored the recall efforts, refusing to comment on the situation.
It seems that Californians are being asked to hold on, but the question must be asked: For how much longer? To those who have already lost everything, the time has come to enact change and they are ready to make their voice heard through the recall campaign.