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Newsom's latest recall strategy: Give away cash, hang with celebrities

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20.06.2021

OAKLAND, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political career has long been something of a white-knuckle roller coaster ride.

So it was fitting that the Democratic governor, in his latest fist-pumping lap around the state, hit the front seat of the New Revolution roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain this week, hands in the air, relishing the stomach-churning jaunt.

It was just the latest example of how Newsom is using a bully pulpit on steroids as he tries to defeat a Republican-driven recall.

The governor announced free tickets to Six Flags and taco giveaways for anyone getting a Covid-19 shot. He channeled his inner game show host persona and delivered massive checks to vaccine lottery winners, backed by a "Big Spin" wheel and appropriately kitschy music. He celebrated the end of pandemic restrictions with Minions and Trolls under confetti at Universal Studios. Between it all, he was on Instagram with musician John Legend and in studio with James Corden on "The Late Late Show."

His dizzying schedule has made the scope — and optics — of Newsom’s victory tour unrivaled in the annals of modern state politics. Fueled by record tax revenues, business connections and celebrity friends, the governor is demonstrating how he'll use his official perch this summer to drive his campaign narrative.

“Imagine being in politics and giving away money — that’s about as good as it gets,’’ Newsom told Corden. "Oprah Winfrey, eat your heart out!"

No other governor has duplicated the level of Newsom's giveaways, most under the auspices of convincing hesitant residents to get vaccinated. But no other governor is facing a recall, either.

His appearances have gotten so over-the-top that longtime political reporters can hardly believe what they're seeing. "Am I on drugs?" said San Francisco Chronicle reporter Alexei Koseff, marveling at Newsom celebrating with characters in costume. Another, CalMatters' Laurel Rosenhall, dubbed a Newsom event "today's episode of Governor Gives Out Money."

Just months ago, Newsom was on the ropes, battered by charges of hypocrisy after a tony dinner with lobbyists and other guests at the French Laundry while he told residents to avoid gathering at parties. When California was under siege from the virus in December and January, the situation was........

© Politico


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