SAN FRANCISCO, Calif - Nobody understands the recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom quite like Gray Davis. He is one of two governors to be recalled in U.S. history, the only one in California.
"I was the only one dealing with an energy crisis," said Davis. "The legislature had passed a law that was flawed, no other state was dealing with it. Here, the whole world is dealing with the pandemic."
Davis, a Democrat, says the current effort is entirely different than what he faced. The campaign against him stemmed from an energy crisis and the budget.
Newsom's, in part, is fueled by criticism of how he's managed the pandemic. This includes frustrations about shifting reopening guidelines, an unemployment system fraught with problems and the infamous trip to the French Laundry.
"Everything the governor has said, it’s his fault, it’s on him, he shouldn’t have done it, he won’t do it again, there’s nothing I can add to that, and he hasn’t done it again."
Recall organizers believe the governor failed the state and should be held accountable. Davis is confident Newsom will beat the effort, in part because of the state's continued shift to the left since he was governor.
A special election is a near certainty for the fall and Davis believes time is on Newsom's side.
"Most Californians will have been vaccinated, they’re going to start feeling better about themselves and their future and they’re going to realize this pandemic is in the rear-view mirror," said Davis.
In 2003's special election, 135 candidates ran to replace Davis, including the eventual winner and Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Republicans John Cox and Kevin Faulconer are among the list wanting to oust Newsom. Davis is warning members of his own party to stay away.
"They’re diluting themselves if they’re a Democrat, thinking they’re going to get more votes than the governor," said Davis. "It’s just not going to happen. Look at what happened in my election in 2003. They did the same thing and it didn’t work out that well for the Democratic party."
As Newsom and his team continue mounting their defense, Davis has this advice for them. "Make sure everyone gets vaccinated in an equitable fashion," said Davis. "Make sure schools, not just elementary, but middle and high schools are open, and make sure people are going back to work."