California's Gavin Newsom Deflects Recall Question, 'Focused on Vaccines' and Stimulus

California Governor Gavin Newsom did not directly answer a question about a potential recall election in the state on Monday, instead saying his focus was on COVID-19 measures.

Newsom, a Democrat, may be facing a recall as organizers of the effort say they've collected 1.7 million signatures. However, under California law they need 1,495,709 valid signatures by March 17 to force a new election. Some signatures will be rejected.

The governor spoke to the press in Arvin, Kern County in the state's Central Valley and announced that more vaccines were coming to the region, according to KBAK Fox 58.

Newsom was asked directly about the recall effort but deflected the question, saying he was concentrating on dealing with the pandemic.

"I'm focused on vaccines, I'm focused on putting vaccines into people's arms," Newsom said.

"I'm focused on getting our kids back to school, I'm focused on getting small businesses relieved."

Newsom said he was concentrating on a bill to provide around $2 billion in grant money to small business. He's expected to sign the bill on Tuesday. This follows the state's plan to issue $600 stimulus checks to 5.7 million people.

The Democrat also said that Arvin Veteran's Hall would be one of the 11 vaccination sites for the Central Valley and would open this week.

"This site's a special site, this site is special for many different reasons, but fundamentally meets the criteria in terms of protecting vulnerable and valuable members of society," he said.

"We are redirecting 34,000 doses that one of our large pharmacies had that were not being administrated as efficiently and effectively as I would like and we decided to bring those 34,000 doses here to the Central Valley," Newsom went on.

The recall effort, which once seemed a long shot, is fast approaching the number of signatures required to trigger a fresh election. However, Newsom may prevail in an election, according to poll tracker FiveThirtyEight. They cited the fact that California is much more Democrat now than when former Governor Gray Davis was successfully recalled and defeated in 2003.

However, the governor's approval rating has declined during the pandemic. A Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released on February 2 showed 46 percent of the state's voters approve of Newsom but a Public Policy Institute of California on the same day showed his approval at 52 percent. This is still a fall from the 64 percent support he enjoyed in May.

"He might think he's doing a great job, he might think that he's been given a bad deck of cards and a raw deal but you know what, look at the lives who he's impacted each and everyday," the recall campaign's senior adviser Randy Economy told NBC Palm Beach on February 12.

If the recall campaign can successfully collect enough valid signatures by March 17, an election could take place later this year.

Gavin Newsom Holds a Vial of Vaccine
Gov. Gavin Newsom holds up a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on December 14, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Newsom has said he's focusing on the pandemic and not on the effort to recall him. Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images