SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. — Ask anyone who voted “yes” to recall California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom and they will tell you he did this to himself. The recall movement to replace him, however, was helped by the millions of his victims such as restaurant owners who suffered under his COVID-19 totalitarianism for more than a year while Newsom wined, dined, and raised money for himself.
This became evident in a recent meeting I had at a small pub in a neighborhood right outside Los Angeles. On one side of the booth sat Angela Marsden, the Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill owner who went viral in December for passionately ranting against California bureaucrats for closing her pub’s outdoor dining under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions while a movie set equipped with tents, tables, and chairs was permitted by the government less than 50 feet away. On the other side of the booth sat Mike Netter, a lifelong salesman and public speaker who was one of the founding board members of the Recall Gavin 2020 movement.
Marsden and Netter have different backgrounds, are from different parts of the United States, and have different approaches to politics and partisanship, but both have the common goal of recalling Newsom from office after he failed to use his executive power for anything but destroying the state they both love. For the last few months, Marsden and Netter have traveled around the Golden State informing voters of just how bad he is.
For Marsden, Newsom’s poor track record with crime, homelessness, and coronavirus aren’t just frustrating, she takes them personally. Even before the governor’s overbearing tyranny under the guise of fighting off the virus, Marsden said small business owners like her were bearing the burdens of California progressives’ poorly executed “social justice” policies such as the rising minimum wage.
“We were getting crushed before the pandemic with minimum wage,” Marsden said. “I literally was just keeping track of what businesses were going out of business as the minimum wage went up. And I talked to a couple of other restaurant owners, and they said they went to our local rep. People tried to be heard but they were like, ‘Oh, good luck with that.’ That’s what our representatives said — good luck with that — not, ‘Oh yeah, let me take that up for you.'”
Homelessness, Marsden said, was also a growing issue in her area, and the state and county’s policies prevented the police from helping her. At one point, Marsden’s landlord threatened her if she didn’t take care of the homeless people who were camped out on her outdoor dining picnic tables that she wasn’t permitted to use at one point due to COVID restrictions.
“Gavin Newsom gave needles and porta potties to human beings in desperate need of help because that’s what he considers hope — not a home, not therapy, not rehab, not food. Why is that? How in the world can that be humane? I care about the homeless, but it’s become an issue for me as a business owner and as a resident. It’s non-stop,” Marsden said.
The government’s overbearing pandemic restrictions, Marsden said through tears, only exacerbated these problems for business owners like her who were just trying to stay afloat.
“Gavin Newsom has emergency powers. He could have lowered the gas during this emergency. He could have put a freeze on the priming of the minimum wage for the small businesses because we were all closed and devastated. He could have done so many things to help the businesses and he did nothing,” she said.
This caused some of her family, friends, and even loyal customers to flee the state. Marsden is a transplant herself who hailed all the way from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to fulfill her dreams of living in an artsy state and raising her son in a diverse community. But California has changed since she first moved decades ago, and now she’s on a mission to stop it from backsliding into “Third World country” territory.
“To me, this is the most important election to vote in California’s history, and it’s the most empowering thing that we could possibly do to take back our state,” Marsden said.
Instead of taking action on behalf of struggling Californians, the governor raised more than $70 million from interest groups and other influential donors to punch back at what he and other top Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have called a “Republican recall,” a label Marsden finds particularly insulting. She is an independent who doesn’t even remember if she voted in the latest gubernatorial election that put Newsom in office.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” Marsden said. “I was like, well, what are we gonna do? The only people who get heard are the people that protest. Mind you, [Newsom] opened us for about three weeks right as the BLM riots were going on and so our first week open, I was boarding my windows. Small businesses were being torched. We already were dying and I thought, well, those people are being heard.”
This feeling was brewing in California long before the pandemic, but it wasn’t until Netter and other key players came along that it was finally harnessed for action. Netter first became interested in the roots of the recall Newsom movement in 2019.
“I started looking around the state, and it occurred to me that no one seemed to be looking out for California,” Netter said. “What’s happening is, no one really cared about California, the politicians who were major were simply using this as a stepping stone to go on,” Netter said.
At the time, it was a disorganized effort that lacked mobilization and public support, but when Netter teamed up with Orrin Heatlie, who is now the recall campaign’s lead proponent, hope finally started to spill over. After clever maneuvering around California’s standards for paper margins, Netter and others were able to “empower” regular citizens to disseminate the petition required to add a gubernatorial recall to the ballot.
The recall movement didn’t have the money that political advisers said they would need to orchestrate such a large effort, but through the power of social media, voter records, and oodles of volunteers, recallgavin2020.com soon became a hub for Californians looking for more information on how to get the governor out of office. It wasn’t long before the entire state geared up for an election where dozens of candidates showed up to replace him.
“The story here is the mobilization of the people and giving people like Angela, all of us, hope because there’s action that we can take to have our voice heard. And that action has to be something specific and has to be something that you enable people to do,” Netter said. “The Democrat side in California has drilled down to specific action to get themselves in office.”
“The biggest mistake Gavin made was French [Laundry],” Netter admitted, but he said the electorate was ready to fight long before that. And when outraged restaurant owners such as Marsden joined the movement, it added fuel to the fire.
Even if the recall doesn’t go the way she hopes or expects it to, Marsden said she won’t give up fighting for her state and fighting to get Newsom out of office.
“Everybody’s bailing out of California, and if California goes, the rest of the country goes,” she said. “I’ve got to do something. I at least have to fight to the very end and tell people what’s really going on. … I see people I care about who can’t afford to go out to eat. They can’t pay their rent. They’re losing their businesses and no one cares.”