Newsom originally received some praise for his aggressive approach with the nation's first stay-at-home order last spring. But there is growing criticism over extensions to the order, and his admission last month that he dined at an opulent restaurant in Napa Valley while telling state residents to spurn social gatherings and stay home. The public shaming continues for his ill-advised dinner at the French Laundry, an establishment that features a white truffle and caviar dinner for $1,200 per person.
The governor has since apologized, but some are growing tired of the rules.
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"This is about citizens who are tired of being dictated to every single day and being told, 'You cannot go outside,' 'You cannot do this,' 'You cannot do that,'" said Randy Economy, a senior adviser to the recall effort.
Organizers would need to collect roughly 1.5 million valid signatures.
A Newsom spokesman says the campaign by Trump supporters is a waste of money, adding the governor would rather focus on getting through the homestretch of the pandemic.
It's not uncommon in California for residents to seek recalls but they rarely get on the ballot - and even fewer succeed. Several launched against Newsom faded but another attempt is drawing greater attention as his fortunes change while he enters a critical stretch in his governorship.
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Photos of the Napa dinner - a birthday party for a Newsom confidante who also is a lobbyist - emerged showing the governor without a mask at a time when he was imploring people not to socialize with friends and wear a face covering when going out and around others.
Economy said there was a surge of several hundred thousand petition signatures after Newsom's restaurant debacle. "It has resonated. It's about the arrogance of power," he said.
Newsom appears to be getting on campaign footing. He has hired veteran Capitol insider Jim DeBoo as a senior adviser, which could help him repair frayed relationships with legislators and bring sharper political instincts to his office. Newsom also just named Dee Dee Myers, a former Warner Bros. executive and White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton, as director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development.
The prospect of a recall election is reviving memories of California's circus-like 2003 recall, in which voters installed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor after deposing the unpopular Democrat Gray Davis. There were 135 candidates on the ballot, including Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and former child actor Gary Coleman.
If the recall qualifies, Newsom would be forced to fend off rivals in the midst of a pandemic that has cost the state millions of jobs, cored government budgets and upended life for nearly 40 million residents.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.