Steyer could jump in as first Democrat in gubernatorial race against Newsom

Inside California Politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A possible first Democratic candidate is emerging amid the effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer is the latest name to surface as the governor’s recall election looms.

Steyer is reportedly polling and offering himself as a potential fallback candidate, according to Politico. Steyer’s team Wednesday would not confirm or deny the report.

“The recall efforts in California are a clear attempt by the GOP to take back control of the state and squelch the progressive momentum that swept through 2020 and will carry forward. That is why I oppose the recall,” Steyer wrote in a statement.

Governor Newsom sidestepped the question when asked about Steyer’s actions at a press conference held Wednesday to announce his new attorney general pick, Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

“I’ve been candidly overwhelmed with the incredible support the Democratic Party has shown in opposition of this recall, very proud to have their almost unanimous opposition to this recall,” Newsom told reporters. “I look forward to working with those who will soon join the cause and I have confidence in our capacity to truly unite the Democratic Party against this Republican recall.”

In the beginning of the pandemic, Newsom tapped Steyer to lead California’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery, which disbanded in November. 

“I think everybody is testing the waters here to see if the governor is vulnerable from a challenge, not only among the general electorate but if there’s any Democratic support for that,” said  Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio, who was press secretary for recalled Governor Gray Davis. “So far, the numbers are looking very good for the governor.”

Elections officials continue to work to verify signatures collected in the recall petitioning process. The final tally is expected to be released at the end of April, with experts saying the election will likely be held in November. 

“That is a lifetime away in politics, anything can happen between now and then,” Maviglio said.

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