3 Major Trump Donors Contribute $325,000 to Gavin Newsom Recall Effort

The movement to recall California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has gained significant traction in recent months, with major GOP donors and backers of former President Donald Trump dishing out money for the cause.

Among those who have donated include three Republicans who were big players in supporting Trump's 2020 presidential campaign.

They include Beverly Hills real estate developer Geoff Palmer, who contributed $150,000 to the recall campaign, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Douglas Leone and his wife Patricia Perkins-Leone, who shelled out nearly $100,000, and retired construction equipment executive Howard Groff and his wife Susan Groff who donated $75,000.

Collectively, the three donors have given nearly $350,000 to the recall movement, Politico reported.

So far, the two Republican-backed groups that are leading the recall efforts say they have already raised $3.2 million and expect to surpass $3.5 million by this weekend.

Organizers of the petition will need to submit nearly 1.5 million valid signatures to the California Secretary of State's office by March 17 for the recall vote to qualify for the ballot.

By Friday, the RecallGavin2020 campaign said they already have 1.4 million signatures, and expect to meet their mark in the coming weeks.

"We are in the red zone at the 10-yard line," Randy Economy, senior adviser and spokesperson for the campaign said Thursday.

This is the sixth attempt to recall Newsom, but the first to gain real traction. If the petitioners are successful, a special election vote to recall Newsom would be held within 60 to 80 days.

The campaign to oust Newsom began last summer, and has largely been motivated by the Democratic governor's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the state's economic oversight. Critics of the governor have pointed to a slow vaccine rollout, the state's bungled unemployment system, and strict coronavirus lockdowns.

The movement picked up more steam in November, when Newsom was seen maskless at a birthday party dinner after pleading with Californians to stay home and avoid public gatherings.

Gavin Newsom
Major GOP donors and Trump supporters have donated money to the campaign to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom. Here, Newsom speaks to the press after the sixth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California on December 19, 2019. AGUSTIN PAULLIER/Getty

According to a recent poll conducted by UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, Newsom's approval rating has dropped 14 points – from 60 percent to 46 percent – over the last four months. In that survey, 36 percent of voters said they would vote to oust Newsom if the recall measure makes it on the ballot, while 45 percent said they would not.

In the meantime, challengers to the California governor are beginning to line up.

Among those include John Cox, the Republican candidate who lost to Newsom in 2018, and Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who have both announced their intention to run against Newsom if given the chance.

"I'm in. Without question," Cox tweeted on Tuesday.

However, skeptics of the recall movement believe it likely won't result in Newsom's removal from office. According to leading U.K. bookmaker Betfair, the odds of Newsom being recalled are just 17 percent.

Former California Governor Gray Davis, who was recalled in 2003 and subsequently replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, previously told Newsweek that Newsom has "managed to weather the bad times" and predicted he would win re-election in 2022.

Newsom himself has commented on the Republican-backed recall and said it would cost California taxpayers $81 million.

"Our budget is balanced. Our fiscal reserves are unprecedented. Our economy and employment are historically strong," he said. "Yet a handful of partisan activists supporting President [Donald] Trump and his dangerous agenda to divide America are trying to overturn the definitive will of California voters and bring Washington's broken government to California with this recall effort.

"The last thing California needs is another wasteful special election, supported by those who demonize California's people and attack California's values," Newsom added.

Newsweek reached out to Newsom for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.