LOS ANGELES – Backers of an effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom have raised more than $2.5 million, according to financial disclosures filed with the state through Tuesday. Political analysts say that’s approaching the minimum amount required to gather enough valid signatures to place the matter on the ballot.
Veteran Republican attorney Thomas Hiltachk, who served as the lead counsel on the successful 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis, said the groups attempting to oust Newsom need to raise a minimum of $3 million to $4 million total to be successful.
Hiltachk has not taken a position on the Newsom recall. He noted that the financial figures that were disclosed by the three recall groups provide an incomplete picture. But based on what he is hearing about the signature-gathering and fundraising, Hiltachk thinks their odds for success have improved.
“I was pretty pessimistic about it back in December, but now I think it is quite possible that the recall qualifies for the ballot,” he said.
Despite California’s Democratic tilt, the state is home to wealthy GOP donors. The recall has also received some national attention, including fundraising by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The largest donor is John Kruger, an Orange County entrepreneur and education reform advocate who has given $500,000 through his Irvine-based Prov. 3:9 LLC. Kruger did not respond to a request for comment, but a representative previously told the Los Angeles Times that Kruger’s contribution was prompted by Newsom’s restrictions on religious gatherings because of the pandemic.
“Both Mr. Kruger and I believe that the Governor’s Executive actions prohibiting religious assembly and worship violated the constitutional rights of Californians to congregate and worship,” Thomas Liu wrote in an email to The Times in January.