Even as the Biden administration struggles to grapple with the COVID – 19 pandemic ravaging the nation (such as missing two million vaccine does), two big blue state governors are dealing with the fallout of their current and past handling of the crisis.
Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Gavin Newsom (D-CA) are embroiled in crises 100 percent of their own making. As reported a few months earlier, Governor Cuomo instructed NY State officials to downplay how many elderly died in nursing homes. Now, on the heels of a State Attorney General report and Cuomo’s administration being called to account, in a press conference the Governor responded with a “Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”
The callousness reflects the mind of one of the most politically powerful figures in Democratic circles. It is well known Cuomo wanted to run for President in 2020 but held off when Biden announced. With Cuomo running for reelection for an unprecedented fourth term next year, the Governor obviously wanted to burnish his credentials for that run and also have a massive win to present to voters for the 2024 primary. Now, those hopes are likely dashed. NY is a pretty damn blue state but there is no way the Governor can outrun this statement and the report is only just being dug into by the media. Cuomo essentially dug his own grave here (no pun intended).
The situation in the Democratic bastion of California is not as grisly but not much better. There, freshman Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a growing recall movement. What began as a long – shot conservatives effort to kick out a Democratic Governor after he was caught last November flouting his own guidance not to mix with other households by attending a birthday celebration of more than 12 people at the lavish French Laundry in Napa Valley. Now, after more mistakes such as a botched vaccine rollout and on again, off again, restrictions on business services, the recall effort is approaching the numbers needed seven weeks in advance.
For clarification, only half the states in the country even have a recall option and every state’s recall process is unique. For example, Wisconsin’s famous recall of former GOP Governor Scott Walker in 2012, was undertaken in a system where once enough signatures were verified to recall Walker, the Governor faced off against an opponent in an election. In other words, once enough signatures put the recall on the ballot, the Governor stood for recall against an opponent. In Cali, if a recall election is called for by enough voters, two concurrent elections are held; if the public wants to recall the Governor and the second the Governor’s replacement. If less than 50 percent of the public supports the recall it negates the results of the named candidates running to replace the Governor. Confused yet?
Yet, despite the obvious hurdle this puts on the recall effort the last time a recall effort was attempted in Cali in 2003, it succeeded with 55 percent of the vote (though the recalled Governor did not place his name on the ballot to stay in office) Obviously Cali has become a lot bluer since 2003. Even so, if there ever was a time for a recall effort to succeed, it would be when a political leader botches a pandemic. Just ask Trump.
Republicans, post – Trump, divided and clearly disorientated, now find themselves with once in a decade opportunities to take advantage of Democratic blunders. In Cali, Republicans have an obvious alternative in former San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer, who had already formed an explorative committee for next year. In NY State, well, not so much. Though to be fair, GOP Governors in both states would likely run up against solid Democratic supermajorities in the legislature.
Either way, Republicans have to be ecstatic not only are two Democratic stars now fading but their blunders leave their once blue bastions open for a Republican resurgence. Such a resurgence could prove needed for a post – GOP Trump to have a chance to find an ideological and electoral path forward.