The Republican National Committee contributed resources to the push to oust embattled Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom for the first time Thursday as the local effort to hold a recall election approached a key threshold.
The RNC says it is investing $250,000 to support efforts by state Republicans to gather the roughly 1.5 million petition signatures required to call the recall election. Local groups leading the signature drive say they have already surpassed 1.5 million signatures ahead of a March 17 deadline, but they intend to collect more to account for signatures that could be deemed invalid.
“Gov. Newsom’s authoritarian measures, blatant overreach and complete mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic have proven that he is woefully unqualified to lead the state of California,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement on the investment. “It is time the people use their constitutional recourse to remove him from power.”
The RNC will launch a digital outreach campaign to raise awareness for the recall campaign and push California residents to sign the petitions, according to the report. Additionally, GOP volunteers will call state residents.
The Republican Governors Association is also closely tracking the recall effort. Fox News has confirmed that the RGA has reached out to people close to the petition movement, communicated with several of the declared or potential GOP candidates and commissioned a poll in the burgeoning race.
Newsom, who once enjoyed a broad base of support in the left-leaning state, drew intense criticism in recent months over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Detractors have called on the governor to reopen schools, loosen restrictions on local businesses, and ramp up a vaccination campaign that has ranked among the slowest in the nation.
California’s first and only gubernatorial recall vote took place in 2003, when then-Gov. Gray Davis was removed from office and replaced with movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.
Several Republicans, including California businessman John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, have already announced their intent to run for governor should the recall vote occur.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
This story has been updated.