SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – With one week to go, Gov. Gavin Newsom is making a strong push to get back the support from Latino voters he needs to defeat the September 14 recall election against him.
In a visit to the Mission District in San Francisco on Tuesday, Newsom posed for picture seekers, volunteering to phone bank and reach out to Spanish-speaking voters, with the recall election just days away.
"We do know how super important they are, specifically this one," said Tracy Gallardo of the San Francisco Latino Task Force.
The bigger the turnout, the better for Newsom in a state, where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, with the Latino vote on the governor's mind.
"I'm proud of the response we have received from the Latino community," said Newsom.
The Mission Language & Vocational School became a makeshift phone bank Tuesday. During the last year and a half, has served as a food bank for many, especially those hit hard by COVID-19.
"This is one of the things that's affecting the Latino community, the pandemic," said Raul Hernandez of San Francisco, who volunteered to phone bank for Newsom.
This summer, it appeared the Latino vote was split on the recall. Latinos make up nearly a third of the electorate in California.
"It's been a hard 18 months on everybody. So everybody is feeling that brunt, everybody's feeling that fear and anxiety and that's the moment we're in," Newsom said in a response to a question from KPIX 5.
"You put that into a political context and layer it with an off-year off-month election and people's anxieties and fears, it's a challenging cauldron," Newsom went on to say.
Even though there are more than 40 candidates on the ballot, Newsom focused on his main GOP challenger, Larry Elder.
"Either we vote 'no' on this recall or in a matter of weeks the next governor in the state of California is Larry Elder," said Newsom. "He is offended by our healthcare expansion regardless of your preexisting condition, your immigration status."
Newsom also described the conservative talk show host as the far right of Donald Trump.
Election officials say turnout is shaping up to reach historic highs.
Overall, Democrats account for 53% of the returned ballots, while Republicans account for about 24%, according to Political Data Inc.
GOP frontrunner Elder spoke in Fresno and Monterey counties, pointing out California's rising cost of living under Newsom's leadership.
"Crime is going up. The quality of education is going down. Cost of living is going up. homelessness is going up. Gavin Newsom ran for mayor in 2004, promised to clean up the homeless problem in San Francisco in 10 years, that would have been 2014. Have you been to San Francisco lately?" said Elder.
Businessman John Cox was in Modesto Tuesday, promising that he was tackle the housing and homeless crises.
"Housing is the biggest single cost in any household budget and what we need to do is get the cost under control. I build for a living and I build for a lot cheaper in Indiana than I do in California," he said.
At a virtual rally, Republican Kevin Faulconer also criticized the governor for being too soft on violent criminals.
"I will take the position that we will put our victims first and criminals in jail, that needs to be our approach in California," he said.
Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institution has been an advisor for national GOP candidates including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"I think Newsom has lost support," he told KPIX 5. "It's a community that has been affected and impacted by the economic policy decisions, by the mismanagement of state government that we have seen under the Newsom administration."
An encouraging sign for Newsom is the shift in some recent polls. Last week, a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California showed 66% of likely Latino voters say they won't support the recall and just 27% say they would. It's a shift from previous polls that suggested a tight race.
Politicians lined up, to reinforce the governor's message that his policies have aligned to support the Latino voting base.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed urged voters to not take one day for granted.
"We want to make sure that we have someone in office who comes from the city and county of San Francisco who stepped out with courage, with courage, time and time again. David Chiu talked about his track record on supporting immigrants," said Breed.
"Communities like the Mission, where we are today, were the foremost on his mind when it comes to vaccinations and relief, throughout this pandemic," said San Francisco Assessor Joaquin Torres.
Exit polls in 2018, when Newsom was elected governor, showed support among 2 out of every 3 Latino voters.
Vice President Kamala Harris is expected in the Bay Area on Tuesday, and President Biden is expected to make a stop in California early next week to support the governor.
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