Capitol Alert

Mass California blackout recalls shades of Gray Davis. Should Gavin Newsom be worried?

As more than a million Californians endure daily life in the shadows of a deliberate blackout by PG&E, there is one name many people on social media would like the state’s current governor, Gavin Newsom, to keep in mind: Gray Davis.

California’s 37th governor, like Newsom, presided over unpopular engineered outages. Those power outages proved to be Davis’ undoing, as some pointed out Thursday on Twitter.

“Power cuts in California. The cuts in 2000-01 weren’t fun. I wonder if Newsom will be the next Gray Davis,” wrote Twitter user Tony Nash.

California voters removed Davis from office through a recall campaign; his seat was filled by a Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Twitter user Gordon Mohr likewise wondered at the similarity between Davis’ and Newsom’s plights.

Newsom has said that he is outraged at the shutoffs and criticized Pacific Gas & Electric for creating the conditions which made this week’s mass blackout happen.

The governor has faced intense criticism on both the left and the right as hundreds of thousands of Californians continue to experience a planned blackout, which PG&E argues is necessary to prevent wildfires from sparking during an intensely windy period.

Bay Area gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter, an outspoken advocate for reproductive rights, wrote that “I really expect some action on this” from Newsom.

John Cox, the San Diego Republican whom Newsom defeated to become governor, also took the occasion to lambaste Newsom for not doing enough about the power outages.

“Your third world state has people living on streets, millions without power, underperforming schools, massive unfunded pensions, rationed water and business fleeing,” Cox wrote. His reference to ‘third world’ conditions echoed that of other political leaders from both sides of the aisle over the interruption of electricity.

Meanwhile, the hashtag campaign #RecallNewsom received new life in the wake of the mass outages, with several tweets calling for the governor’s removal.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.