The Mama Bear Recall, Part 3: The Fight Is Not Going to Stop After the September 14 Newsom Recall Election

Screenshot, Christine Abercrombie in The Mailroom-Mama Bears Zoom Call. Credit: Jennifer Oliver O'Connell.

In Part 1 of this Mama Bear Recall series, I introduced the Recall Gavin 2020 team members who were instrumental in collecting the signatures, ensuring they were vetted, submitting them to the 58 California County Registrar-Recorders, and getting the Recall to 2 million signatures. Only 1,459,000 million were required to trigger a recall election, and these women (with the help of a few men) went above and beyond. These are their stories.

In Part 2 of the series, the Mama Bears warned that the fight for the actual recall ballot must continue. They are working to get people to understand that it’s good that they signed the petition, but now they still need to actually vote “YES” to get Gavin Newsom recalled. The Mama Bears also discussed opposition strategies, the whispers and outright evidence of voter suppression and fraud, and how they are working to thwart it.

We ended our long and informative conversation by talking about September 14: The Special Recall election day. I wanted to know what they think the actual outcome might entail. How would it look if we win, and Newsom is recalled?

More importantly, how will it look if we lose and Newsom retains his seat?

The Mama Bears remain cautiously optimistic that this battle will be won, and we will see this governor recalled.

“It’s really gonna come down to L.A. County, I think,” Executive Secretary and Lead Proponent Christine Abercrombie said.

Orange County Coordinator Wendy Redlew Shrove agreed.

“I think so,” she said.

Abercrombie continued,

“L.A. County is going to be the hinge, you know. All eyes on L.A. County—like, just be on them. I know our registrar here in Sacramento is pretty neutral. We can just give up San Francisco.”

Although over 11,000 people signed recall petitions in San Francisco County (0ver 9,000 were verified), Abercrombie does not hold out hope that those voters will seal the deal with a “YES” on Recall.

“Funny story,” Abercrombie interjected.

“In the early days, the Thursday night crew would take a tequila shot if we received a petition from San Francisco County. We would “cheers” to a unicorn!”

This entire recall has been unprecedented, so perhaps the unicorns of San Francisco will rise again and surprise Abercrombie and others.

Central San Joaquin Valley Regional Manager Ellen Woitalla said it best,

“Whether Gavin is removed October 1st or not, we are the shot that’s been heard around the world. We did something that has never been done in California in the 55 years I’ve lived here—my whole life. We stood up to a type,” she said.

These Mama Bears dared to challenge the status quo and call out corruption. In fact, had it not been for the recall, would the world (not just California) know about how corrupt this governor is? About the executive power overreach? The lies on wildfire prevention? Using the power of his office to control the PG&E bankruptcy deal where his friend of 20 years would benefit? How poorly managed the state has been under the pandemic?

Doubtful. The signature collection, and bringing the recall to a ballot, shined a necessary spotlight on the depth of corruption that exists, and why this governor needs to go.

Abercrombie agreed:

“We wanted it to. I think that’s what every lady—I’m just going to speak for myself and hopefully them—to say that that was our main goal. Just to throw a huge wrench in this system. We’re not just gonna go along with this tyranny, we’re not having it. We’re absolutely not having it, and whatever it takes, being in the streets, doing whatever, you know?”

Northern California Regional Manager Heather Keller chimed in,

“Yeah, hitting the corners.”

Abercrombie replied,

“We’re doing it.”

Ventura County Coordinator Shellie Balsz is excited for September 14, but also for what the recall unleased in her community.

“I think that it will be the same thing. I put two years into this, but I’m also continuing with our local recalls for Board of Supervisors and whatnot,” she said.

“So, I’m not going to be stopping anytime soon. The teams that we have locally are just getting bigger and bigger. It’s just so awesome to watch.”

Another example of Gavin Newsom unifying Californians in a way he didn’t expect. The recall, this pandemic, the lockdowns worked to create more engaged communities who are taking back the reins of their local governance.

We have the Mama Bears to thank for this.

Woitalla agreed with Balsz,

“We formed allegiances with all our different communities. Right now, there are recalls going on all up and down the state, in large communities and small communities.

“This isn’t just about recalling Gavin. This has triggered this revival of taking back our government within our own communities. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of these different movements in my own county.

“So, yeah, I want him out, of course.

“I mean, I’ve put two years into this. I want to see this to the finish line. But I don’t feel like that’s the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to make forever change, and I believe that we have already done that.”

Riverside County Coordinator Roxanna Maxam interjected,

“I think this recall awakened something in all of us that we didn’t know we had in us. We’re now on. We’re not silent. Riverside County, we’re getting ready to attack and recall our boards. We don’t like what they’re doing in our city, and we’re going to take them on with the women that I did recall Gavin with.”

“Yeah, we can do anything, because we now know we can do anything!”

September 14 is now 16 days away, and the optimism of these Mama Bears has not dimmed.

“I think we’re going to have a win, and it’s going to be a landslide,” Woitalla said.

“I just think it’s going to be a gigantic amount of “YES” votes, and I think we’re all waiting to the last minute so that that doesn’t give them any advantage over us.”

“What I’m thinking [that] people are thinking, but from reading people, and the data… we want to win.”

Abercrombie reflects on how it all started,

“It’s really amazing, even with the extension that we were able to get that many signatures.”

As this California citizen-led recall comes to a head, Abercrombie’s message to the organizations and candidates, Republicans or Democrats who are riding the coattails of their hard work is simple:

“They do need to just stay out of the way. Put your candidates forward and do whatever you want to do, but just stay out of the way.”

Woitalla agreed,

“It concerns me at this point, when you talk about organizations coming in at the last minute and trying to hijack the blood, sweat and sweat and tears, you know from everybody across the state.”

Shrove interjected,

“What’s concerning me is that not only are they hijacking it, they’re threatening it,” she warned.

“I know that everybody has different people that they probably want to replace Newsom, if we prevail. Gavin Newsom, he’s out there saying you don’t want your state run by a far right-wing Fox News guy. And I keep trying to tell Republicans, please just concentrate on the reasons to recall Gavin.”

“This state is not ready to push it that far, and we need to just get to Question 1. Question 1, that’s all that matters.

“We need those moderate Democrats, we need those independent votes. We have to have those votes or this isn’t going to happen.”

Yesterday, my husband and I drove home from a Kevin Kiley campaign event, and encountered a car caravan for Recall Gavin Newsom. All the cars were festooned with recall flags, American flags, stickers, banners, the works. They drove safely, in formation, and received honks and cheers along the way from other drivers, including from us.

The momentum and passion to see Gavin Newsom recalled is the highest I have ever seen. I am old enough to have been around for that 2003 recall of Gray Davis, and it was nowhere close to this current one in terms of excitement for change, grassroots organization, and most importantly, individual citizen engagement.

What heartens me is that voters are not only motivated, but also getting informed. They are going to candidate websites; they are watching Kevin Paffrath’s videos, and paying attention to the debates. They are going to rallies, and sharing the research and information on the Question 2 candidates with friends and family, so that their “YES” on Question 1 will have the most impact.

The Mama Bears poured close to two years and a lot of time, energy, sacrifice, and sweat equity to ensure we could get to Question 1: Should Gavin Newsom Be Recalled? Getting to 50 + 1 “YES” on that question is essential to see the turnaround of this State.

While they’re hard work will never be in vain, seeing this governor removed will be a victory of epic proportions, and a bellwether of change in how governance is done in the entire nation, and not just in California.