Gavin Newsom in a speech at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night claimed that his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was right and saved lives. Acknowledging Californians’ frustration and exhaustion with the long-running health crisis, Newsom claimed that “the state of our state remains determined.”

He mentioned that the epidemiological situation in California is improving, as infection ratings are steadily declining, and noted that more residents are getting the vaccine and also pointed out that small businesses, some of those most severely affected by restrictive measures, are receiving more “direct aid.”

The governor stated that he would not “change course just because of a few naysayers and dooms-dayers,” apparently aiming at political rivals, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

“So to the California critics, who are promoting partisan power grabs and outdated prejudices and rejecting everything that makes California great, we say this: We will not be distracted from getting shots in arms and our economy booming again. This is a fight for California’s future”.

Newsom defended the restrictive health measures introduced by his administration, even as the health care system was overwhelmed by the significant surge in COVID-19 cases during the last months of 2020. Acknowledging the “agony about the sacrifices it would require,” the governor stressed, that he “made sure that science – not politics – drove our decisions” and asserted that his approach was “the right thing to do.”

“People are alive today because of the public health decisions we made — lives saved because of your sacrifice. Even so, I acknowledge it’s made life hard and unpredictable, and you’re exhausted by all of it”.

He urged Californians to “not let the pain of last year deter the hopefulness of tomorrow” and promised that “the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter than ever.”

© AP Photo / Marcio Jose Sanchez
In this Nov. 21, 2020 file photo, demonstrators shout slogans while carrying a sign calling for the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif

There is the possibility that the California governor could be removed from his post before the end of his term in 2023, as the recall movement is said by some to be gathering pace among those who are unhappy with Newsom’s policies, such as his pro-immigration policy, the highest taxes in the US, extremely high homelessness levels, “the lowest quality of life” according to some, and halting death sentences despite what is claimed to have been widespread support for the hot-button practice.

The pandemic triggered the recall campaign as the governor introduced strict lockdown rules, closed schools and slowed the vaccine roll out. The fact that he was spotted violating his own administration’s guidelines did not help his credibility.

An “impeachment” would require 12 percent of voters to sign a petition by 17 March. According to the latest data, Recall Newsom has collected nearly 1.5 million signatures in a state that is estimated to have some 22 million registered voters.