Pelosi to California Democrats: Don't run in Newsom recall

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday warned Democrats against running in California’s likely gubernatorial recall election, aligning herself with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for party unity.

“I think it’s an unnecessary notion,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “I don’t think it even rises to the level of an idea.”

Pelosi’s comments offer powerful reinforcement to Newsom’s early efforts to prevent fellow Democrats from running in a recall that’s all but certain to go before voters later this year. The governor’s team has moved aggressively to squelch intraparty strife. Pelosi threw her substantial political clout behind Newsom, suggesting national Democrats will continue mobilizing support, and predicted he would prevail.

“I think the governor will beat this quite decisively, and we’ll all help him do that,” Pelosi said.

The gubernatorial recall would put put two questions to voters: whether Newsom should be recalled, and who should replace him. If Newsom musters a majority on the first question, the menu of backup candidates becomes moot. But if voters recall Newsom and there is no fallback Democrat, a Republican could claim the governor’s office with a plurality of the vote.

That possibility has divided California Democrats. Some believe that the party must have a backup candidate in case Newsom does not prevail. But the governor and his team have taken the opposite approach, believing that the emergence of another Democrat would undercut party unity and erode Newsom’s political standing.

The speaker on Thursday also amplified Newsom’s counterargument that the recall is propelled by extremists and pro-Trump partisans, and she predicted Newsom would both defeat the recall and win a second term in 2022.

“I do think we will defeat the initiative not because of who started it, the Trumpites, but because of the governor’s leadership,” she said.

Recall spokesperson Randy Economy fired back in an email that Pelosi “needs to stay in her lane,” noting more than two million Californians signed recall petitions.

"The San Francisco political elite like to protect themselves and have no respect for the people of California during this historical recall,” Economy said.

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