SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a possible recall election as the nation's most populous state struggles to emerge from the coronavirus crisis.
Organizers for "Recall Gavin 2020" say they have collected around 800,000 signatures so far. That's more than half of the nearly 1.5 million petition signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot.
But state records show just under 500,000 have been turned in so far; of those, 46,756 are from San Diego County.
Recall adviser Randy Economy says interest is higher since it was revealed Newsom dined with friends at an opulent restaurant while telling state residents to stay home and not socialize.
"He's done this to himself," Economy says, pointing out that many business owners are upset at how Newsom has handled the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing shutdowns.
"More people have suffered who are the heart and soul of California and the backbone of our economy, and we basically have had it."
Economy says his group does not plan to hire professional signature gatherers. Instead, they're relying on a network of 30,000 volunteers across the state. They plan to use social media and their website to gain momentum.
"People have paying attention," he says, "They're at home, they don't have much to do, they're always on social media...
"You can download the petition. You can sign it in your home. You can have your family member sign it. You can have your neighbor sign it. It's just just real simple."
But a grassroots movement may not be enough. Newsom still has high approval ratings, and won his recent election by the largest margin in California history.
UC San Diego Political Science Department Chair Thad Kousser says the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis provides a good comparison.
In that recall, the only successful recall of a governor in California history, supports got a huge financial boost from Darrell Issa and also had a big-name challenger in Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Kousser says this recall effort has neither.
"Without the money that it takes to set in place the machinery of direct democracy in California, we're not going to see a recall come to fruition," he says.
Newsom hasn't spoken publicly about the recall, but his office released a statement in June. It was identical to a statement he released in 2019 when facing a different recall election.
In it, Newsom says the people behind the recall want to "bring Washington's broken government to California."
"The last thing California needs is another wasteful special election, supported by those who demonize California's people and attack California's values," it says.
When 10News presented that statement to Economy, he scoffed, adding "This man has the audacity to be able to lecture us on on politics and, and how he has been able to conduct himself behind closed doors. How dare he."
Recall organizers have until mid-March to gather signatures. If they get enough, the recall election would happen sometime over the summer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report