Leaders of the Recall Newsom 2020 movement say they have the 1.5 million signatures needed by mid-March to trigger a special statewide election challenging California Gov. Gavin Newsom, but they're aiming to gather another 300,000 to 500,000 in the next four weeks to ensure that they have 1.5 million validated signatures, a process that will be performed by the Registrar of Voters.
Recall Newsom 2020 and its auxiliary organization Rescue California have raised more than $3.5 million for their efforts, including $125,000 from California's Republican Party that was given to the state party by the Republican National Committee. Organizers say the money is being used for a marketing campaign and paid circulators.
"They're now employing paid circulators out into the streets, into the state, and you folks will see paid circulators standing on the corner of grocery stores or convenience stores or things like that, wherever people gather, and, you know, work to get to the final push," said Orrin Heatlie, lead petitioner for Recall Newsom 2020.
Members of the Biden administration have weighed in with their opposition to the recall movement.
"This is a matter for the people of California and their governor == it has nothing to do with federal politics," Heatlie said.
Leaders of the effort attribute its momentum to frustrations and concerns about Newsom's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The governor has done things, significant things, to help our cause, and, actually, you know, we have nobody else to thank but Governor Gavin Newsom for the success of this recall and he has nobody else to blame," Heatlie said.
State and local Democrats said the effort is uncalled for.
"This recall is a vanity project initiated by Trump Republicans, and if it is to qualify, would be a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars," Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said in a statement to NBC 7. "In the middle of this pandemic, our collective efforts should be used to ensure we keep people safe, get them vaccinated and back to normal as soon as possible."
But recall leaders said their efforts are bipartisan and that high profile Democrats from Silicon Valley have also donated money.
"This is not a party movement," Heatle said. "This is a movement of the people, by the people, for the people. Myself and all of my team -- none of my team are politicians. We are just concerned citizens and this is the people's movement."
Political action committees are not allowed to endorse candidates for governor. The Recall Newsom 2020 organize5rs said they're just creating an opportunity for what they feel would be a better leader for the state.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has announced his intention to run to replace Newsom. If enough signatures are gathered and a special statewide election is triggered, the candidate who garners the most votes will win.
"If supporters turn in enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election, the additional procedural steps dictate a recall election take place within 60 to 80 days of signature verification," according to Ballotpedia.