“Donald Trump and California Republicans who encouraged the attacks on our US Constitution … are also engaged in the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom,” the chair, Rusty Hicks, said in a virtual press conference Tuesday, first reported by Politico.
“This recall effort … really ought to be called The CA Coup,” he added.
Newsom has faced harsh criticism from California Republicans for his strict handling of the coronavirus. The state has seen more than 2.7 million cases – a rate that is 70% higher than the next leading state in infections. And with 36,000 deaths from the virus, only Texas and New York have seen higher death rates than California.
Led by former law enforcement official Orrin Heatlie, Republicans have collected 1 million of the 1.5 million signatures required by mid-March to trigger a mid-year election.
Critics on social media were quick to condemn the comparison of a political procedure to the recent mob that attacked the Capitol building.
“Comparing the capitol attack on our democracy to a recall effort allowed under the state Constitution, signed by 1 [million] people across the political spectrum, is absolutely disgraceful,” said former Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Hicks pushed back against the Republican mayor’s slight and called him a “California ReTrumplican.”
“What’s ‘absolutely disgraceful’ is a political opportunist who’s willing to further the cause of white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, & those who encourage violence on our democratic institutions,” Hicks wrote. “But I guess that’s what it means to be a California ReTrumplican.”
Hicks stuck by his comments, telling Fox News in a statement that California’s Republicans are “willing to use this legal process to further right-wing extremist agendas.”
“Including those of some engaged in violence on our democratic institutions,” Hicks continued. “Every potential signer, endorser, and funder should be aware of that reality.”
Newsom has remained quiet on the effort to recall his governorship, instead focusing on trying to improve the vaccine distribution rate in his state.
State officials like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have blamed the federal government for the slow release of vaccines.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force repeatedly has said it is leaving it up to state officials to figure out the adequate distribution of the vaccine – a challenge for the most populous U.S. state.
California has started administering mass distribution sites, relying on the Los Angeles Dodger and San Diego Padre stadiums as venues to help improve vaccine accessibility for the public.
Newsom also suggested in a Tuesday evening tweet that, following directions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California can open up vaccine access to anyone age 65 and older.
Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.