Gavin Newsom’s Fall From Grace


Richard Eber, California Political News and Views

When Gavin Newsom woke up on November 6, 2018 with 69.1% of the popular vote for Governor of California, he obtained the highest majority since Earl Warren was swept into office back in 1930. All indications showed that the two time San Francisco Mayor and Lt. Governor had a strong mandate to rule the State.

A little more than two years later Newsom has been able to fulfill most of his campaign pledges. This has included increasing government involvement with housing, passing additional gas taxes, legislating rent control, protecting transgender rights, and giving additional government assistance to immigrants in the Sanctuary Cities program.

Despite these achievements that have more than fulfilled his Progressive agenda, Gavin Newsom is floundering.   In recent polls, his approval rating among voters has fallen to around 40%.  The problem seems to be that Newsom’s policies have not changed but the electorate has.  It has reached a point where petitions are circulating to recall him come November.

What could be the reasons for Newsom’s fall from grace? His victory margin might have been a little soft because in effect he ran virtually unopposed.  His opponent Republican John Cox had no previous record participating in California politics.  Having run for office in Illinois and President in 2008, helped depict Cox to be a Carpetbagger. His campaign for Governor was doomed to failure despite much of the electorate having misgivings about Newsom.

Even though the record gas tax increase he supported passed through legislature and was upheld by voters, this victory proved costly for the new Governor.  It left many people bitter especially when he diverted revenues to subsidize public transportation while at the same time suspending support for High Speed rail once the small section under construction in the Central Valley is completed. 

These moves angered drivers who want to repair roads and expand them to ease congestion. Construction unions were upset because Newsom’s policies mean fewer jobs for their members.  While paying the highest gas taxes in the country, people of all political persuasions were wondering where all the money has gone?

To make things worse these drivers are being asked by their counties and cities to pony up additional sales taxes to be matching funds for what the State provides.  Even then there is frustration, especially among commuters, that money raised is being diverted from road maintenance to bike lanes that serve a small segment of the population along with public transit they never use.

Another point of contention is Sanctuary Cities. While this policy has been popular in liberal circles, after a couple years many California residents are realizing that all of these freebies to immigrants are coming out of their pockets. This includes:

  • A public education system that is among the worst in nation. The burden of funding of immigrant students, who often struggle as English learners has been perceived to lower the quality of the learning experience for everyone.
  • Sanctuary cities affects law enforcement as it takes up much of their resources even if police can’t arrest most law breakers because this would result in deportation.
  • Covering undocumented kids under MediCal is costing billions of dollars that tax payers must absorb.
  • California’s housing shortage is exasperated by the influx of immigrants into the State.

The Sanctuary City money pit especially hurts African American, Asians, and other racial minorities.  Many believe their families are not getting the government services they deserve.

Somewhat related to Sanctuary Cities is the Homeless crisis that has impacted cities in proximity to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  While casting a shadow for this epidemic of filth, drugs, alcoholism, crime and despair, the benevolent policies of Governor Newsom has received a fair share of blame for this mess.  A disgusted public is tired of hearing that the problem is Donald Trump’s fault.

For the past two years Gavin Newsom has been spending a lot of government resources opposing virtually every policy emanating from Washington D.C.  Whether it is water, fires, education, environmental laws, immigration, or foreign policy, the public is getting weary of all of the grandstanding.  Many folks believe State government should concern themselves more with policies that affect the lives of residents rather than trying to run the country.

Other points of contention have been several bills passed by the progressive legislature that directly hit the pocketbooks of the diminishing middle class if California.  Ab-5 which makes independent business owners into union employees is so unpopular that the law is being ignored as it has taken effect this year.  Uber drivers, owner operator truck operators, and a host of other workers are rebelling against the new law.

Equally unpopular are a host of other new laws passed by the legislature that takes away local control on urban planning decisions.  They place responsibility for what is to be built with the State and their regional agencies.  Going along with Sacramento’s takeover of new development that many communities don’t want, are the infrastructure outlays for schools, law enforcement, traffic congestion, roads, and recreation.

Exasperating matters are the additional pension costs for police, fire, and civil servants to CalPERS that local governments must supply.  According to the law, paying these mandated expenses , which in some cases are more than doubling in the next five years, is a higher priority than providing basic services the public is accustomed to,

It comes to a time and place where the answer “Whose going to pay for it?” comes into play.  With the exception of high tech in a few selected areas, the middle class is paying for the brunt of the high cost of living in California.  Even then businesses are fleeing to less costly places such as Texas, Arizona, and   Nevada, to avoid taxes and environmental regulations that make it next to impossible to survive on the “Left Coast.”

There is a growing indication that a rebellion of voters is at hand to reject new tax proposals by government on all levels, regardless of how worthy they might be.

Gavin Newsom and his cohorts might be in denial that California is going to hell in a hand basket but remaining residents are well aware of the States diminishing prosperity.  While liberals in Sacramento might believe a new middle class will emerge from a $ 15.00 minimum wage, economics tells us otherwise.  In a similar vein it is complete fantasy to think the wealthy 1% can be counted on to bail out budget deficits paying additional taxes time after time.

Maybe Californians’ are not as ready for socialism as one might think.  This includes Gavin Newsom’s actions with the PG&E bankruptcy proceedings that appear to be a thinly veiled attempt to put them out of business. Given what is perceived to incompetence at the DMV, Caltrans, and other State agencies, Newsom’s desire to take over the utilities scares most people.

Meanwhile frustration of the so called “silent majority” grows in California.  Since electing Republicans does not seem to be a viable alternative to their dissatisfaction of the State government, Gavin Newsom has ended up being a convenient target. Recalling him might be easier than throwing out the sewage that is clogging up the “swamp” in California.


Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

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