Gavin Newsom Is Hanging on by a Thread

The political future of California Governor Gavin Newsom may be in doubt after a face mask row erupted on the same day that a poll reported he has only a tiny lead ahead of September's recall election.

Newsom pulled his two eldest children from a summer camp in the state after it emerged that the organization was not enforcing mask wearing, which is required in California.

The governor's office announced that his children had been removed from the camp on Tuesday, within hours of the release of a poll that gave the Democrat a lead of just three percentage points in the recall election scheduled for September 14.

The survey from the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies (IGS), conducted with the Los Angeles Times, found that among Californians most likely to vote in the recall election, 50 percent wanted to retain the governor, while 47 percent wanted him removed from office.

That 3-point difference is within the poll's margin error. The other 3 percent of people polled were undecided.

Support for retaining Newsom is higher among total registered voters, however, with 51 percent opposing his recall. Just 36 percent of total registered voters favored his removal. Thirteen percent were undecided. This means election turnout is likely to be crucial.

IGS co-director Eric Schickler said: "At least so far, Democrats haven't seen the recall as a big threat, and so they're not mobilized.

"The governor seems to be betting that, in the last six weeks, his campaign will have enough funding to do advertising, field work and everything else needed to get their message to their voters. That's going to be the big challenge for them."

A Newsom campaign representative, Nathan Click, told Newsweek on Tuesday: "This poll should be a wake-up call for Democratic voters and all those who don't want to see a Trump Republican become governor of California."

He added: "In a normal election, this Republican recall wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Death Valley. Californians don't want a Republican takeover of our state, but if Democrats don't vote, that's what could happen."

Newsom is also facing renewed criticism over mask mandates after the summer camp row. California requires mask-wearing indoors in K-12 settings such as schools and summer camps.

Reopen California Schools, a group opposed to COVID-19 restrictions that have kept children at home, said it had identified Newsom's 10-year-old son in online photos from a basketball camp. In the photos, children were not wearing masks indoors.

"This is in clear violation of his own mask mandates," the group tweeted. "Why can his kid be maskless, but not ours?"

Newsom spokesperson Erin Mellon issued a statement on Tuesday, saying: "The Newsoms were concerned to see unvaccinated children unmasked indoors at a camp their children began attending yesterday and after seeing this, removed the kids from the camp.

"The family reviewed communication from the camp and realized that an email was missed, saying the camp would not enforce masking guidance. Their kids will no longer be attending this camp."

When reached for comment by Newsweek on Wednesday, Mellon reiterated the statement she had issued on Tuesday and pointed to the fact that Newsom's children had only been at the camp for a single day.

Reopen California Schools and another parents' group, Let Them Breathe, are suing Newsom and the state's senior health officials over the mask mandate for children. Children must wear face coverings in school regardless of their vaccination status.

Update 7/28/21 10.50am ET: This article was updated to add a response from Governor Gavin Newsom's office and to change the headline.

Governor Gavin Newsom Attends a Press Conference
Governor Gavin Newsom attends a press conference for the reopening of Universal Studios Hollywood on June 15 in Universal City, California. A new poll gives Newsom just a 3-point lead in the upcoming recall election. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images