What the French Laundromat has to do with Gavin Newsom’s recall election
As California Gov. Gavin Newsom scrambles to defend his seat in next week’s gubernatorial recall election, a dinner he attended with friends last fall amid restrictions put in place in because of the coronavirus pandemic has continued to fuel those who want the Democrat removed from office.
More than a month before the first COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), California was battling a growing wave of new COVID infections -19, with health experts predicting further increases during the vacation weeks that were yet to come.
As head of state, Newsom had largely discouraged Californians from congregating near people outside their homes in order to protect their families and prevent the spread of the virus. But one night in early November, Newsom was found to be breaking his own virus precautions when he attended a friend’s birthday dinner at The French Laundry, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Napa County in Yountville.
In mid-November, Los Angeles-based news channel KTTV shared photos showing a Maskless Newsom at a restaurant celebrating the 50th birthday of Jason Kinney, a lobbyist and friend of Newsom. Kinney’s presence fueled further speculation about the dinner, with The Los Angeles Times later publishing an article that explored Kinney’s years of history with Newsom in detail.
On November 16, Newsom apologized at a virtual press conference and said that attending the dinner was “a big mistake.”
“As soon as I sat down at a larger table, I realized it was a bit bigger group than I expected,” Newsom said of his arrival at the restaurant. “Instead of sitting down, I should have got up and walked home, got in my car and went home. Instead, I chose to sit with my wife and a number of other couples who were outside the home. “
The governor said “we all fail sometimes,” but added he needed to better follow the advice he had given to others as the virus remained a threat in the state.
“The spirit of what I preach all the time has been contradicted, and I have to admit it,” he said.
Despite Newsom’s apologies, word of his dinner at the French Laundry quickly spread and outraged many already frustrated by the pandemic restrictions Californians had faced for months. The dinner prompted many to sign a Recall Gavin Newsom petition that was circulating at the time – the same petition that then qualified for a ballot.
Randy Economy, a former spokesperson for Recall Gavin Newsom, said News week At the end of December, the dinner was like a “tidal wave” for the recall effort. First approved for release in June 2020, the petition received an extension due to the pandemic, giving organizers a reminder until mid-March 2021 to collect signatures for their petition. The original petition deadline was November 17, 2020, just days after the dinner Newsom attended.
As news of the dinner spread, support for the recall effort began to increase and it became increasingly likely in the first weeks of 2021 that the petition would be eligible for a ballot. The organizers of the recall eventually managed to collect at least 1,495,709 verified signatures by the March 17 deadline. This minimum number of signatures is equivalent to 12% of the total votes cast in the gubernatorial election Newsom won in 2018, in accordance with state recall election rules.
Although the initial recall petition was launched months before the dinner at Newsom’s French Laundry, the recall website includes the dinner at the top of its list of reasons to recall Newsom with a description that reads, “Rules for you, but not for him = a dining room inside the French laundry. , No mask, 22 guests. “While the recall organizers also credited the pandemic-related restrictions and business closures for fueling their efforts, the Recall Gavin Newsom website further identifies the political positions of Newsom on gun rights, homelessness, immigration and more as reasons why supporters of the recall are supporting the petition.
Those behind Recall Gavin Newsom kept the French Laundry dinner in the conversation about the recall in part thanks to a radio show “Friday Night at the French Laundry” launched in January and through continued references to the dinner during interviews and on social networks. Many of the poll recall candidates who come forward to replace Newsom if he is recalled next week have also continued to remind their social media followers of the French Laundry dinner.
Conservative radio host Larry Elder, who is widely regarded as the frontrunner among the 46 contestants who feature on the recall ballot, compared the restrictions Newsom put in place during the pandemic with Newsom’s November 2020 release in a tweet of August 31.
“Gavin Newsom has violated the fundamental freedoms of Californians, demanding that we close our schools, close small businesses and avoid places of worship – causing enormous harm to millions of students, business owners, workers and citizens. families. Meanwhile, he had dinner at the French Blanchisserie, “Elder tweeted.
Citing an investigative report from Sacramento-based news channel KXTV, Republican and former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer tweeted on Aug. 14 that Newsom “had negotiated a bankruptcy plan that prioritized customers of PG&E and friend ‘French Laundry’ in relation to the victims of the fires in California “.
John Cox, a businessman who lost the gubernatorial race to Newsom in 2018, said in May he would “make the beastly changes that will put hard-working California farmers ahead of French laundry lobbyist buddies. from Newsom “. Reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner called dinner, as well as Newsom’s decision to send her children to private schools for in-person instruction while many other schools operated remotely as an “example of hypocrisy “. This month, most of the money Newsom raised to fight the recall effort came “from lobbyists like his French laundry table mates.”
There is less than a week left before California voters decide whether Newsom will remain in office for the remainder of his term or be impeached sooner. If more than 50 percent of voters vote for Newsom’s impeachment, he will be replaced by the recall candidate who obtains the most votes. This replacement governor would then complete Newsom’s current term, which is scheduled to end on January 2, 2023. In the 2022 midterm elections, voters will select someone to fill the next full term of office, regardless of the outcome. special elections on September 14.