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Barbara Lee

Commentary: $215 M Cal Recall Election is Baseless, Trump-Backed Power Grab

It is time to fight these recall efforts and ensure our leaders can focus on the issues that matter for the health, safety, and welfare of every Californian.

Election Mail in Ballot Stock Photo

Just as it seemed we as a country were coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves faced with another challenge as the Delta variant of the virus spreads more rapidly throughout our communities.

On top of the pandemic, we are also heading into another fire season while many of our neighbors remain unhoused. We know that low-income Californians, people of color and women who take care of their families while also providing essential care for others are feeling a disproportionate share of these burdens.

It is during this time that Republicans have chosen to once again return to the Donald Trump playbook of political games by attempting to recall Governor Gavin Newsom and overturn his election without any merit or standing.

This recall effort –  in addition to being completely baseless and a blatantly political power grab — is completely inappropriate during this period where we need to allow our elected leaders to handle very significant challenges.

This recall election of the governorship alone will cost Californians $215 million in taxpayer money, money that could have been spent battling wildfires, developing housing, or combatting a pandemic that continues to threaten our health and public safety.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I know how much Californians — and African American Californians in particular – have to lose from this Republican ploy. We know that recall supporters from the Trump camp understand they cannot win in a normal election, they are yet again using underhanded tactics to undermine our democratic elections.

As we fight against voter suppression in Congress and in states like Georgia, we must realize that the recall election is the California version of that same Republican agenda.

Gov. Newsom won his position in 2018 and has since set an example to the nation for what strong leadership can do in the face of crisis. Since the very beginning of this pandemic, we remember California was and continues to be looked upon as a gold standard for testing, vaccination, and virus protocols.

Governor Newsom has proven his ability to lead California through the pandemic, and his resume ensures he is more than up to the task of controlling the Delta Variant.

Now, the Trump-backed recall is setting its sights on dismantling all the work we as a state have done to keep this virus under control, and for no more than a political ploy to steal a governorship from the voters who put Governor Newsom in office.

The good news is that we have faced these challenges before, we know the good work we are capable of doing.

Although it will take time and a continued effort from our leaders to get through these crises, we will return to a sense of normalcy once again with strong leadership and good decision making as Governor Newsom and his team have already shown capable of executing.

Ignoring these problems and instead being forced to deal with a completely unsuitable recall for Californians by Trump-backed groups is a recipe for disaster.

The ploy to recall the governor is one of several democratically elected positions that Trump-backed groups have targeted to recall.

From progressive district attorneys to city council members and from California delegates to local school board members, these recall groups insist upon wasting taxpayer dollars, costing Californians hundreds of millions of dollars, just to win political games.

These recalls are a waste of our money and are completely detrimental to overcoming the challenges we have at hand. Simply put, the recall effort of Governor Newsom and every Trump-backed recall effort will hurt Californians –not just our recovery from Covid but reproductive freedom, education funding, civil rights and other longtime conservative targets.

We have come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic, the early helplessness we all felt is finally transitioning to hopefulness. We cannot afford to forfeit all that we have worked for over petty political stunts.

It is time to fight these recall efforts and ensure our leaders can focus on the issues that matter for the health, safety, and welfare of every Californian.

Women and people of color stand firmly behind Governor Newsom. We know that the health of our families, our neighborhoods and our rights depend on defeating the recall. We invite all readers to join us on September 14 — or as soon as you get your mail-in ballot — in voting NO on the recall.

About the Author

Rep. Barbara Lee represents California’s 13th Congressional District including portions of Alameda and San Francisco counties in the United States House of Representatives.

Barbara Lee

OPINION: Rep. Barbara Lee Urges Constituents to Take Advantage of Opportunities to Get Health Insurance

Special enrollment is underway and lasts through December 31. Any eligible Californian can sign up without needing to have a qualifying life event – for example, losing your job, recently getting married, or having a new child.

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Stethoscope on Bed; Photo courtesy of Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

The past 18 months have shown, more than ever before, the fragile, precious, and priceless nature of our health.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our economy, our ability to educate our children and our general wellbeing.

There is an important  tool to help us stay safe and vibrant. That’s health insurance. With the pandemic far from over, having affordable, high-quality health coverage is more important than ever.

The economic stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed into law in March, is helping to lower health insurance premiums to levels never seen before.

Covered California, the agency that administers the Affordable Care Act in this state, has been working hard to get out the word about the new increase in the financial help available to ensure millions of Californians can get quality health insurance coverage.

Covered California estimates the new financial assistance available through the ARP can directly help more than 450,000 people in the Bay Area by significantly lowering their monthly premiums.

New data shows that an estimated 103,000 people in the Bay Area are uninsured and eligible for health insurance coverage through Covered California, with an additional 89,000 eligible for no-cost Medi-Cal. Under the ARP, most of those eligible for Covered California would be able to get a high-quality plan for as little as $1 per month, or a plan that offers additional benefits for less than $100 per month.

The new law is already helping about 280,000 people in the Bay Area currently enrolled through Covered California by lowering their premiums and making coverage more affordable than ever before. Covered California consumers statewide have already seen their net premiums decrease by an average of $190 per household per month.

Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

Affordable, accessible, high-quality healthcare is a fundamental human right. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, I worked to ensure strong provisions that expand health care access, address health disparities and create incentives for people to live healthy lives.

While citizens and leaders in the greater Bay Area, including the 13th Congressional district which I represent, reacted quickly to slow the spread of the virus, our communities have still been hit hard, especially communities of color.

With the help of vaccines and ARP, we are making positive steps forward. We can hug our grandchildren again. We can go to restaurants again. We are returning to school and to work.

But the pandemic is not over. As the Delta variant continues to spread, it is now just as important as ever that we continue to get vaccinated.

Last November, I spoke on the House floor emphasizing the need for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and the disproportionate impact the pandemic was having on Black, Brown, Latino, Asian and Indigenous people – communities that historically have been left behind in times of crisis.

We can’t allow that to happen again this time.

Vaccines are readily available, and they are proven safe and effective. Please don’t hesitate. Let’s not lose the ground we have worked so hard to gain.

Vaccinations and affordable health insurance are invaluable tools that can help us get back to normal. We must use them.

To find out how much financial assistance you can get and enroll for coverage, go to: https://www.coveredca.com/.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents the 13th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Barbara Lee

VP Harris Comes to Oakland

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Vice President Kamala Harris talks with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., as she arrives at Oakland International Airport, in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, to campaign for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces removal from office in a Sept. 14 recall election. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Vice President Kamala Harris talks with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., as she arrives at Oakland International Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, to campaign for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces removal from office in a Sept. 14 recall election. (Photo by Carolyn Kaster, Associate Press)

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Barbara Lee

Black Leaders Voice Strong Support for Gov. Newsom as Voters Return Recall Ballots

Each of the speakers took about one minute to voice their support for the governor and share why they intend to vote ‘no’ on the recall.

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Election Mail in Ballot; Stock Image

Supporting the campaign to stop the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) organized a ‘Black Leaders Press Conference, attended by 90 influential Black leaders in education, the church, politics, civil rights and as well as members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, last Tuesday on Zoom.

Lateefah Simon, a Bay Area-based women’s and civil rights activist, moderated the zoom rally.

Each of the speakers took about one minute to voice their support for the governor and share why they intend to vote ‘no’ on the recall. Many of them also spoke out against controversial recall candidate Larry Elder, who is Los Angeles-based radio talk show host and who says he not an African American but an American who is Black. He is the leading candidate vying to replace Newsom.

“We come together today as African American leaders because we understand the danger before us. We understand this is a right wing move, and we’re not going to let it happen,” said U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37).

“We can’t get confused by Larry Elder,” said Bass. “I don’t care what he looks like. We know Larry Elder very well in Los Angeles. He has built his career on attacking black leaders.”

The meeting began with a prayer delivered by the Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and president that city’s NAACP branch. Brown prayed for the “redemption of our democracy” and that the promise of the nation be upheld.
Congresswoman Lee echoed Congresswoman Bass’ support for Newsom.

“We know that the health of our children, our neighbors and our communities depend on Gov. Newsom’s leadership. He’s been there for us, and we will be there for him,” she said.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond shed light on unprecedented education spending Newsom helped make a reality in the state.

“Our governor has given our schools a $123-billion budget for education – a record budget. It includes funding for broadband, mental health, community schools, universal meals for all kids, universal pre-school for all 4-year-olds, COVID tests, PPE and anti-hate. We don’t recall governors who do good things for African Americans and for all people. We say ‘no’ to the recall.”

Malia Cohen, member of the California State Board of Equalization, called Black women to action, stressing that the recall election is especially urgent for women’s rights.

“If we lose Governor Newsom, we are losing our reproductive rights, we are losing our opportunity to have a champion that has been helping us fight the fight for child support and helping us lead the way for universal Pre-K. This is a human being that is an ally.”
San Francisco mayor London Breed thanked Newsom for believing in her and first appointing her as well as providing logistical support to her city.

“Governor Newsom has been there for us. He has answered our calls. He has been active and reached out to us on so many different levels. And what I don’t want to do is to go backwards and stopped the progress we have been making,” Breed said.

“More importantly, I want to express that Gavin Newsom has been an amazing supporter and friend to African Americans – not just in his capacity as governor but when he served here as mayor of San Francisco,” Breed continued. “The first position I was appointed to was on the San Francisco Redevelopment Commission and Gavin Newsom appointed me. A lot of people think it was Willie Brown. It was not Willie Brown. It was Gavin Newsom.”

Brown was the first Black mayor of San Francisco and a former Speaker of the California Assembly.

Newsom, who joined the call, expressed his gratitude for the support he’s received thus far and reiterated the stances he plans to champion as governor. He pledged to continue to put women in positions of power, to build on economic and workforce development strategies for minority communities, and to continue to reform the public education system in California.

Voting in the recall election has started in California’s 58 counties. Voters can return their mail-in ballots now by mail or at designated drop-off stations or polling centers in their counties. Or they can show up to the polls on election day Tuesday, Sept. 14, to cast their vote.

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