Sonoma County voters oppose upcoming recalls, new poll finds
A majority of Sonoma County voters say they plan to cast ballots against recalling California Gov. Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Jill Ravitch, according to the results of a new Press Democrat poll.
In the Sept. 14 election, voters will determine whether to recall Newsom. If he is recalled, voters will choose his replacement from a long list of candidates including conservative talk show host Larry Elder, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, business executive John Cox and former Olympic athlete and celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.
Also on the Sept. 14 ballot is Ravitch, who plans to retire next year when her term ends. No one has stepped forward seeking to replace her if she is recalled.
Of the 500 voters surveyed in the poll, 26% said they would vote to recall Newsom and 58% said they would definitely vote against recalling him.
The same number of respondents said they would vote to recall Ravitch, but a smaller number, 47%, said they would vote to keep her.
Newsom’s approval rating dropped during the pandemic, largely because of his policies, but also because of a personal gaffe. He faced criticism for widespread delays in vaccine rollouts, as well as a new stay-home order for most of the state. The criticism intensified in November, after it was revealed that he ignored his own stay-at-home and mask guidelines while attending a friend’s birthday dinner at the French Laundry restaurant in Yountville. Newsom later apologized for the incident.
The campaign to recall Ravitch has accused her of corrupt hiring practices and a failure to disclose conviction rates, but her supporters say the recall is really about local developer Bill Gallaher’s anger over a settled lawsuit involving his Oakmont Senior Living company.
Gallaher, the recall campaign’s backer, is also the founder of Poppy Bank and chief executive officer of Windsor-based Gallaher homes.
Asked for their opinion on Gallaher, 7% of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of him, while 38% said they had an unfavorable opinion of him.
Ravitch fared better, with 34% of respondents saying they had a favorable opinion of her and 28% saying they had an unfavorable opinion.
The numbers for both recalls look good for the incumbents, said Professor David McCuan, chair of political science at Sonoma State University.
For a county with typically high voter turnout, the numbers track for Sonoma County during a typical election year, he said.
Because both recalls are happening during an off year, voter turnout is a bit more variable.
“Recall politics are really the Wild, Wild West,” McCuan said, adding there has been a dramatic increase in local recall attempts across the country.
Santa Rosa resident Monica Moura, 36, she she believes support for the recalls stems from residents’ frustration over the pandemic.
“I think it just goes back to because of shutdowns people are mad, their dreams and hopes and hearts have been ripped out of them,” Moura said.
Referring to the trend as the power of protest, McCuan noted the movements have mixed success.
Typically recall efforts are not sustainable and lose legitimacy without someone else running as an alternative to take the seat, McCuan said.
It is a sentiment Moura shares.
“I have to laugh about recalling someone when there’s not a replacement,” she said.
If Sonoma County voters do recall Ravitch on Sept. 14, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will have to appoint a replacement because there is no one running in the election to take her place.
Petaluma resident Tiffany Harbin, 42, finds Ravitch’s recall frustrating; especially since Ravitch intends to retire.
“It seems like a huge waste of money,” she said.
The lack of an alternative in Ravitch’s recall, makes the effort noteworthy, McCuan said.
Even more noteworthy is what a successful recall of Newsom will mean for Democrats and Republicans.
Heading into the 2022 midterm elections, a recall of California’s Democratic governor could “fracture Democrats” and nationalize “the movement against the Biden administration and Democrats,” McCuan said.
With a little over a month to go, the pressure is on to rally voters by Labor Day, when they’ll likely be cementing their opinion of the candidates, according to McCuan.
A rallying tactic from Newsom’s campaign could include the rollout of big name Democrats like former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, and high-profile celebrities — a move the Newsom campaign has yet to make, McCuan said.
Locally, Ravitch supporters are taking a more grassroots approach with yard signs and possibly some door-to-door campaigning.
You can reach Staff Writer Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or email@example.com. On Twitter @MurphReports.