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Could Gov. Newsom See Political Fallout After Being Photographed Breaking Mask Mandate?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom was photographed Sunday breaking the mask mandate at the NFC Championship Game in Inglewood.

The last time the governor was photographed violating the mask mandate, it helped fuel a recall effort. So what kind of political fallout could he face this time?

"I was trying to be gracious. I made a mist-," Newsom said at a Monday press conference, stopping mid-word before calling the photograph a mistake. "I was trying to be gracious. I took the mask off for a brief second."

A grinning Newsom was photographed alongside Lakers legend Magic Johnson unmasked at SoFi Stadium.

"You'll see in the photo I did take where Magic was kind enough, generous enough to ask me for a photograph, and in my left hand's a mask, and I took a photo," Newsom said Monday.

But the governor wasn't alone.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were also choosing to forgo a face covering.

All three were in violation of state and county mandates — and stadium rules — requiring masks regardless of vaccination status.

We asked CBS13 political analyst Gary Dietrich what kind of political fallout Newsom could face.

"I think the important thing for the governor isn't just what the political fallout for him is, but more broadly now the questions are being asked about his party," Dietrich said. "People will claim hypocrisy of an entire party structure."

Dietrich says it's too close to next election to stoke another recall, but Newsom will likely be answering to the "optics" on the campaign trail.

"You can just see it right now, the questions are going to come up in debates, in t-v advertisements, and on and on and on," Dietrich said.

That's where the political problem can clearly come into focus.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley is calling on the governor to end the mask mandate for school children.

In a Monday morning tweet, Kiley wrote: "In light of his conduct at the football game, and in light of what empirical data and common sense have long dictated, i'm calling on Gavin Newsom to end the school mask mandate."

This backlash is similar to criticism Newsom faced before after being seen ignoring his own mandate.

The governor attended a birthday dinner at the high-end restaurant The French Laundry back in 2020. He later apologized and called the move a mistake.

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