Democrats brand gubernatorial recall effort 'California coup,' Republicans remain confident

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California Democrats launched an all-out assault Tuesday on the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, likening it to last week’s deadly insurrection that ransacked the U.S. Capitol.

They even went so far as to brand the recall movement "the California coup."

With the petition drive to recall the governor gathering steam and signatures, a group of prominent California Democrats held a virtual news conference to denounce the effort and link it to the Capitol attack. California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks said the same people and groups who stormed the seat of American democracy are behind the campaign to remove Gov. Newsom.

"This recall effort, which really ought to be called ‘the California coup’ is being led by right-wing conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers and groups who encourage violence on our democratic institutions," he said.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, a former Republican state assemblyman turned Democrat, said the recall is nothing less than an attempt to overthrow the Newsom administration:

"What we are seeing happen across our country is inspired and motivated directly by Donald Trump," Fletcher said. "Trump and Trumpism pose an existential threat to our peaceful democracy."

Recall supporters are blasting the Democrats for suggesting a constitutional recall campaign is anything like insurgents storming the Capitol.

"It’s completely outlandish and irresponsible," said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Sacramento, a Republican who’s one of the leaders of the recall movement and has been fighting Gov. Newsom in court over his executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kiley, who called the "California coup" tag line "really crazy stuff," has a new book just out called "Recall Newsom" making the case against the governor.

"They can see the recall has gathered steam, they see it’s likely to qualify and they see that the people of California are more attentive to our state government than they’ve ever been before," Kiley told KCBS Radio’s "The State Of California" on Tuesday.

Supporters of the recall effort claim to have over one million signatures.

"I think it's quite likely that it's going to qualify and, of course, we'll have an election where the attention of the people of California will be focused on whether or not to recall the governor," Kiley added. "It will be a clean referendum on the status quo."

The governor is up for re-election in 2022.