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The man behind one of two efforts to recall Gov. Newsom explains why he wants the governor gone

Dr. James Veltmeyer is attempting to recall Gavin Newsom, arguing the governor is putting immigrants ahead of Californians.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — "Every legislation, every law that [Newsom] created and is proposing is undermining the safety and dignity of our Californian people."

As he nears the end of his first year in office, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has already had two separate efforts to force him to stand for a recall election bubble up.

Dr. James Veltmeyer is leading one of those recall attempts against Newsom. He believes it's already time for Newsom to go because he's putting the safety of all Californians at risk.

Newsom defeated John Cox with over 60% of the vote in 2018 to become California's 40th Governor. A recent poll found Newsom's approval rating and his disapproval rating at a statistical tie.  

Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, describes the recall effort against Newsom as "the long shot of long shots." 

The only recall effort to successfully remove a California governor which forced a special election was against Gray Davis in 2003. California voters elected Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace Davis in the special election.   

Kousser said Davis was so unpopular in 2003 — with an approval rating of about 20% — that it drove people to sign the petition to begin the special election.  

Voters blamed Davis for energy crisis that caused rolling blackouts throughout the state throughout 2000 and 2001. Some say the recent PG&E power shutoffs that the utility company enacted several times throughout October to prevent wildfires leaving millions without power closely resembles the problems that plagued Davis.  

However, Kousser noted that Newsom has not been universally blamed for PG&E's decision to shut down large portions of its grid. 

For a Republican recall effort to be successful, Kousser said it needs to build alliances. While taking an outside look at Veltmeyer's recall efforts, Kousser said he could obtain enough signatures by targeting independent voters. 

"These are issue positions that coalesce conservative opposition to Gavin Newsom rather than ones that build a bridge to middle California," Kousser said.

The California Secretary of State Office could not comment on how much a recall election would cost at this time and wouldn't speculate on costs until a recall effort collects enough signatures to begin a special election. Looking back at the special election that removed Davis from office, the cost totaled around $25 million, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The ability to recall a politician was created in 1911. The reason being is to remove those in power for charges of corruption. However, the recall against Davis, and even Newsom, is not because of corruption, Kousser noted, but due to political differences. 

RELATED: Recalling the Governor: easy to try, hard to actually do 

Veltmeyer argues the recall would save Californians money, even if the special election would cost in the millions in state dollars. 

"We are going to be saving a half a billion dollars, and we would be helping our citizens," Veltmeyer said. 

Newsom signed the state's $214.8 billion operating budget in June 2019. Veltmeyer's argument is the recall would push for a more conservative agenda.  

However, even if voters recall Newsom, Kousser said the chances are high that a Democrat would win the special election due to the fact California is increasingly becoming a blue state.

So, what propelled Veltmeyer to launch a recall effort? The doctor listed two items of legislation that impact undocumented immigrants as the main reasons for why he wants to recall Newsom.

In 2019, California became the first state to offer taxpayer-funded health benefits to young adults living in the country illegally. This bill allows low-income adults age 25 and younger to be eligible for the state's Medicaid program, regardless of their immigration status.

"They can have any procedure done, what happens when they leave the hospital?" Veltmeyer said. "No debt collection agency, there is no bill. If you claim tomorrow, you are here illegally. It would benefit you because you don't have to pay for taxes."    

However, Anthony Cava, spokesperson with the Department of Health Care Services, said all states are required to provide emergency services, including labor and delivery, to eligible undocumented immigrants under federal Medicaid law. Medi-Cal does also provide additional services that include pregnancy-related care and long-term care.

Another issue Veltmeyer is citing in his recall efforts is that California became a sanctuary state in October 2017, which is before Newsom took office. The law prohibits law enforcement from asking people about their immigration status or from entering schools and workplaces without warrants. 

Veltmeyer said while Newsom did not sign the legislation, the Governor is reinforcing the policy.


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Theoretically speaking, if the recall effort is successful, who should be the one to replace Newsom? Veltmeyer said it is too early to tell.  

"I believe you need to learn crawl before you learn to walk," Veltmeyer said. "Our focus is to collect 1.5 million, two million signatures and recall this governor and then we move on to the second stage, which brings out these other great candidates."

Veltmeyer's deadline to obtain the signatures he needs for California to begin a special election is March 20, 2020.  

ABC10 reached out to Newsom's office for comment but has not received one as of publication.


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