President Joe Biden will make a long-touted visit to California Monday in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom, with the pair set to speak in Long Beach one day ahead of the deadline to return ballots and vote in the gubernatorial recall election.
Biden and Newsom’s appearance at Long Beach City College will be the final rally of the governor’s campaign to defeat the recall effort. Tuesday is the deadline for voters statewide to cast a ballot or return their vote-by-mail ballot.
Due to the presidential visit, traffic was a little heavier in parts of Long Beach Monday, and those issues will continue into Tuesday. Long Beach officials warned motorists to expect delays throughout the city until noon Tuesday due to street closures.
People trying to access the downtown area were urged to use Third or Seventh streets.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia took to Twitter last week to hail the pending Biden visit.
“We are going to do everything we can to beat this recall over the next few days — and we are creating a national roadmap for Democrats to win in 2022. Take on anti-vaxxers, defend mask mandates, stand up for science and protect public health,” Garcia wrote.
Newsom has been stepping up his campaign activities in recent days, campaigning in Northern California last Wednesday with his longtime ally, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Republican talk show host Larry Elder, the leader in the polls to replace Newsom if the recall is successful, dismissed the presidential support for the governor.
“If Gavin Newsom thinks that flying in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — not exactly the most admired government officials at the present time — will make him look better, that’s all you need to know about how oblivious and detached Newsom is from a large majority of Californians,” Elder tweeted last week.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, another Republican candidate on Tuesday’s ballot, also dismissed the president’s planned visit.
“Washington, D.C., is not going to save Gavin Newsom,” Faulconer said. “He wants to make it about anything else but him. This recall is a referendum on Gavin Newsom’s failure. That’s why so many Californians not only signed the recall petition, but that’s why Californians in all parts of the state, all party registrations, are ready for a change at the top.”
Elder attended a pair of events in the Los Angeles area on Monday, with another stop planned in San Pedro Monday afternoon and a volunteer rally planned in Costa Mesa Monday night. During a morning appearance in Monterey Park, Elder repeated many of the recall’s themes — criticism of Newsom’s handling of issues such as homelessness, crime and the COVID-19 pandemic, accusing him of “ignoring science” in the imposition of business and school closures.
Elder also shot back at recall critics who have labeled it a “Republican” movement.
“There are 2 million people that signed that petition,” Elder said. “A good quarter of them to a third of them were the people who voted for him just two years earlier. I’m talking about Independents and Democrats. Sixty-three percent of Hispanics voted for him two years ago. Now the majority of Hispanics want him out.”
Newsom on Monday morning again took to social media to urge voters to reject the recall, writing, “Tomorrow CA has the power to stand up for progress. For science. For women’s rights. For immigrant rights. For commonsense gun safety. Tomorrow we can show the rest of the nation that we won’t let Republicans drag our state backwards. Make sure your voice is heard.”
Biden is expected to spend the night in the Southland, then depart for Denver on Tuesday morning for an event to tout his “Build Back Better” economic recovery agenda.
Earlier Monday, Biden stopped in Boise, Idaho, for a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center. He is scheduled to stop in Sacramento Monday afternoon to “survey wildfire damage,” according to the White House.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — who has been nominated by Biden to serve as ambassador to India — said he will meet with Biden during the president’s brief visit. He said his conversation with the president will focus on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate and will next go to the House of Representatives for a vote.
“This is something that many of us have been waiting for for two decades, and working really hard for the last couple of years and certainly this year … this is a moment we cannot miss and so my main thing will be what can I do to help … what can we do to say American’s communities need this passed,” Garcetti said.
As Biden departs Tuesday, Newsom and his potential successors — nearly four dozen of them — will begin the waiting game as in-person voting enters its final day and the deadline arrives for people to return their vote-by-mail ballots. According to the Secretary of State’s office, more than 8 million vote-by-mail ballots had been returned statewide as of Sunday. Nearly 22.4 million were sent to voters.
The recall ballot contains only two questions: should Newsom be recalled — removed — from office, and if so, who should replace him?
If 50% or more voters respond “no” to the first question, Newsom will remain in office, and the results of the second question will be irrelevant. If more than 50% of people vote “yes” on the first question, Newsom will be removed from office and replaced with the candidate who receives the most votes in the second question on the ballot.
Although 46 replacement candidates are on the ballot, Elder has consistently led most polls gauging who would take over in the governor’s office should Newsom be recalled. He has never held public office before, but he’s an outspoken opponent of government mandates — such as those requiring mask-wearing or receiving COVID vaccines — and has vowed to eliminate them immediately if elected.
Beyond Elder, fellow Republicans Faulconer and businessman John Cox have been the most prominent candidates seeking the office.
In his campaign, Faulconer has touted his work as San Diego mayor as evidence of what he plans to do for the state, saying he has experience “cleaning up our streets, keeping neighborhoods safe and bringing people together.”
“This recall is a referendum on Newsom’s failures,” Faulconer wrote on social media Monday. “He wants to distract from that. I’ll clean up our streets, end open air drug markets and make our state more affordable for everyone as governor.”
Faulconer has touted his ability to work cooperatively with politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Cox, who unsuccessfully challenged Newsom in the 2018 election, has touted himself a political outsider who will bring a business-like administration to Sacramento. He has taken to headline-grabbing campaign theater during the race, appearing alongside a live bear to support his beauty-versus-beast campaign theme. He also toted an 8-foot-tall ball of trash that he said was symbolic of the state’s homelessness crisis and failures to address it.
Newsom “and his political insiders in Sacramento have driven California into the ground,” Cox said. “Vote yes to (recall Newsom) and elect a businessman with a proven track record of getting things done.”
Cox is also outspoken in his opposition to mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
Voting locations will be open until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Vote-by-mail ballots will be tallied as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday. The ballots can also be dropped off at any voting location or county elections office, or placed in a ballot drop box.