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THE BUZZ SO IT BEGINS: The deadline for submitting petitions for recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom passed last night at 5 p.m., when recall supporters announced they had submitted 2,117,730 signatures to 58 county registrars. It could take until April 29 to verify whether recall proponents have the 1.5 million valid voter signatures needed to qualify the election.

WHATS IN STORE, according to veteran California political analyst and Sonoma State University professor David McCuan: This is going to be the political story of 2021 and it’s going to be national in scope, because the vice president will not be able to take a pass. That means the White House will not be able to take a pass.

Its going to be a proxy war for 2022, he added. The ultimate exhibition game.

A petitioner gathers signatures on a petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom in Citrus Heights, Calif. | AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK MONEYBALL: In its first 48 hours, the campaign to keep Newsom in office, through its StoptheRepublicanRecall.com website, has taken in a whopping $538,000 from online donors in all 50 states, former Newsom spox and now campaign spokesperson Nathan Click told POLITICO. Calling the haul an unprecedented amount for a California campaign, Click said 95 percent of the money came from Californians, with 99 percent of donations amounting to $100 or less.

Those early numbers show that Democrats are standing with Gavin Newsom and fighting back against the Republican recall, Click said. And we’re just getting started.

WHOS ON NEWSOMS A-TEAM?Carla scoops: That big windfall of cash coming out of the box is the work of Newsoms new campaign team, which includes digital outreach experts from Aisle 518, headed by Tim Dagaris, who advised Sen. Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign and assisted onetime gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Hell be joined by senior strategist Sydney Hibbs, who raised more than $10 million via digital ads in the 2020 cycle.

WARTIME CONSIGLIERI:Campaign manager Juan Rodriguez,who served as campaign manager for now-VP Kamala Harris presidential bid, will be assisted by deputy campaign manager Maddie Franklin, who shepherded campaigns for both BART director Lateefah Simon and state superintendent Tony Thurmond. Averell Ace Smith is lead strategist and Sean Clegg, will handle paid media, communications and messaging; theyre partners with Rodriquez in the newly rebranded SF- and LA-based political shop Bearstar Strategies.

AND THERES MOREDan Newman, a former partner of Smith and Clegg, will continue as Newsoms lead strategist and spokesperson. Democratic pollster David Binder, who served both of Barack Obamas presidential campaigns, is on board with the campaign, as is senior adviser Addisu Demissie, the former campaign manager for Newsoms gubernatorial campaign and New Jersey Sen. Cory Bookers presidential campaign. The campaigns political director is Courtni Pugh, the former state director for Harris presidential campaign, joined by another Harris alum, senior adviser Brian Brokaw.

Here are a few key questions were tracking about the recall election that may well loom ahead:

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Well, everything. Newsom has a big advantage going into a recall challenge, given Californias solid Democratic leaning. But its a political lifetime between now and November, when this election is likely to be held. Some of the darker possibilities that could derail him:

A statewide drought may be on the way, which as the Public Policy Institutes Jeffrey Mount and Caitrin Chappelle write for CalMatters, could wreak havoc on water reserves and stress environmental management and agriculture. And that could lead to

A heavy wildfire season, brought on by drought and heat dome conditions, something Newsom referenced in his recent State of the State address. Which could result in

A summer of blackouts and planned power shut-offs, which affected millions last year. Texans recently witnessed the impact that power outages, and resultant widespread anger, can have on politics. Its the kind of disaster Newsom desperately wants to avoid, along with

The rise of new and more contagious Covid variants of concernin California. A resurgence could undo the light at the end of the tunnel that Newsom has been able to tout in recent weeks.

And then, of course, theres missteps by the candidate himself, a la LAffaire French Laundry.

WHATS ALL THIS ABOUT EXTREMISTS? Newsom came out of the box Monday hitting the more extremist elements of the recall movement including that RecallGavin2020.com founder Orrin Heatlie once posted a Facebook conversation that appeared to support microchipping undocumented immigrants.

Whats Team Newsoms strategy there? First, its a signal to any Democrats or independents who may be considering getting on board with the recall. As in, You may not agree with Newsom but do you want to be associated with that vaccine-protesting, QAnon-believing, Trump-supporting, anti-immigrant crowd?

Its also a clear message to deep-pocketed donors, both corporate and individual, that writing a check to the likes of John Cox or Kevin Faulconer may mean being tied at the hip to some of the more unsavory elements of the far fight.

WHAT ARE RECALL BACKERS BANKING ON?That Newsom becomes increasingly unlikeable and appears more and more out-of-touch with average voters and not just Republicans.

Tom DelBecerro, chair of RescueCalifornia,org, tweeted Wednesday that Newsom is playing a dangerous game in trying to slime all who signed the recall petition as extremists much as Hillary Cllinton did with her infamous deplorables comment. According to recall strategist Dave Gilliard, only 64 percent of petition signers were Republicans, while roughly a quarter had no party preference and 9 percent were Democrats.

Recall spokesperson Randy Economy also argued Newsom could alienate a lot of regular Californians who signed on, because theyre angry with high taxes and housing prices, ongoing EDD woes and Newsoms handling of the pandemic arguably, frustrations more justifiable than anything on the political fringe.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Thursday morning. Todays expected to be the decisive day for California Attorney General Xavier Becerras quest to become the next Health and Human Services secretary: After the Senate ended debate on his nomination with a tight 50-49 vote, he awaits his full confirmation vote and we await an end to Californias long AG-stakes.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Yesterdays crimes are beyond terrifying, but it just brings home to so many Asian Amerians that theyre fearful of their lives in circumstances where they would otherwise feel safe, in their homes and at their jobs. President [Donald] Trump clearly stoked the flames of xenophobia against AAPIs with his rhetoric. Rep. Judy Chu gives remarks after a shooter killed eight people, mostly women of Asian descent, in Atlanta.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: Newsom lead strategist Sean Clegg @CleggSean: In her case, the apple fell far from the tree and rotted. Followed by: New rule: No free shots on @GavinNewsom Response to critical tweet from Christine Pelosi @SFPelosi regarding Newsoms recent remarks about California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

PODCAST OF THE DAY: POLITICO CA editor Kevin Yamamura chats with Jeremy Siegel on POLITICO Dispatch: The California Recall Just Got Real.

WHERES GAVIN? Nothing official announced.

A message from APCIA:

Millions of Californians rely on auto insurance group discounts to save money on car insurance. The Department of Insurance is threatening discounts that help people afford auto and home insurance. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s costly new regulations would eliminate car insurance discounts for millions of Californians, costing hard-working families and individuals hundreds of dollars that they rely on. Californians must speak out and tell Commissioner Lara to save insurance discounts. Take Action

TOP TALKERS

CHICKEN PIT Fresno health inspectors tipped off Foster Farms about state COVID inspection, emails show, by Fresno Bees Manuela Tobias: At least five people who worked at the South Cherry Avenue plant have died in connection to the virus, according to data provided by the company and Cal/OSHA. At least 22 people who worked at Foster Farms Fresno facilities have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 related complications to date.

MILLS MOMENT Oakland’s Mills College will stop granting degrees, ending 169-year run for women’s school, by the SF Chronicles Sarah Ravani: The news shocked and saddened former students who revere the womens college, which opened in 1852, as one of the last bastions of single-sex higher education and a welcoming place for feminists.

CALIFORNIA STORY The Terrifying Story of How QAnon Infiltrated Moms Groups, by Mother Jones Kiera Butler.

AFTER HORROR IN GEORGIA: Violence has Asian Americans questioning how far they have really come in their American journey, by the LA Times Anh Do, Alejandra Reyes-Velarde and Maria L. La Ganga: Many Asian Americans are bristling with pain and fury, seeing the killings as a culmination of a steady drumbeat of racist attacks, with some people blaming them for the coronavirus pandemic because of its origins in China.

Atlanta Deadly Spa Shootings Leave Local Asian American Community ‘Shook To The Core, by LAists Josie Huang.

FORMER ISSA SPOX Trump and the GOP put a bulls-eye on the backs of Asian Americans, by Kurt Bardella in the LA Times.

FIGHTING BACK Elderly Asian Woman Beats Up Man Attacking Her In San Francisco, via KPIX: Witnesses told KPIX 5 they saw the woman pummeling the assailant. In a video taken at the scene, the alleged assailant is handcuffed to a stretcher with his face bloodied.

GAVINLAND

OPEN FOR BUSINESS Recall or science? Newsom’s sudden reopening push has many wondering, by POLITICO’s Mackenzie Mays: California Gov. Gavin Newsom spent the past year as one of the nation’s most restrictive pandemic governors. Now, hes throwing the doors open. Facing a recall threat, Newsom this month announced the return of outdoor concerts and Major League Baseball games, allowed Disneyland to open its gates soon and signed legislation that attempts to reopen schools.

The Democratic governor has two things going for him: a decline in the infection rate and an increase in vaccinations. But the shift in his Covid-19 strategy has prompted cynicism from Republicans and some local leaders as a recall election becomes reality. Would this be happening if not for the movement to oust him?

“Now the recall pressure is on him and suddenly he’s changed his tune,” said Jon Fleischman, a conservative pundit and former executive director of the California Republican Party. “He’s changing the very framework he set up, and it’s right about the time that it became obvious that this recall is going to qualify.”

National Republicans start cash dash for California recall, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt: The Republican Party is creating a big-money vehicle for the expected California recall election, the clearest indication yet that the national GOP is preparing to spend massive sums to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Republican Governors Association has launched Recall Newsom! RGA Action, an entity that is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash. Party officials say they envision it as a central hub into which major donors across the country will funnel their checks.

RECALL MESSAGE? Rescue California recall effort is a warning to Gavin Newsom’s fellow governors, by Susan Del Percio in NBC: Unfortunately, Newsom has reacted with rhetoric rather than leadership. Instead of talking about partisan power grabs, Newsom must stay focused on the pandemic. This might even require thinking about the (politically) unthinkable not seeking re-election in 2022. At some point he has to ask what is best for his states millions of residents.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH Disneyland will reopen in California on April 30, via the AP: Under current state guidelines, only California residents can attend the parks.

TRAGEDY One year of COVID grief: 57,000 Californians died, behind glass, beyond touch and before goodbyes, by the Mercury News Julia Prodis Sulek: With more than 536,000 coronavirus-related deaths across the country and 57,000 in California so far, the pandemic has robbed millions of people not only of their loved ones but of the rituals that help them cope.

ITS NOT OVER California nears light at the end of the tunnel but COVID still poses a deadly threat, by Sac Bees editorial board: Is Californias fast reopening another mistake? Two previous reopenings which ignored warnings from some public health experts resulted in deadly surges. Even as vaccinations get underway, a third wave of infections is hitting other countries. The new COVID variants are causing infections rates to spike across Europe, with Germany and Italy reimposing some restrictions.

BIG MOVE Solano County opens vaccinations to people 50 or older, a first for the Bay Area, by the SF Chronicles Jessica Flores.

FEWER JOBS, MORE WINE Californias deadly COVID year in 9 charts, by CalMatters Jeremia Kimelman and Ben Christopher: In highway crash statistics, unemployment claims, anti-Newsom lawsuits and florist sales, the numbers present a before and after picture of these last surreal, lonely, heartrending, life-ending and life-altering 365 days.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION, SUBSCRIBE TO THE RECAST: Power dynamics are shifting in Washington, and more people are demanding a seat at the table, insisting that all politics is personal and not all policy is equitable. The Recast is a new twice-weekly newsletter that breaks down how race and identity are recasting politics, policy and power in America. Get fresh insights, scoops and dispatches on this crucial intersection from across the country, and hear from new voices that challenge business as usual. Dont miss out on this new newsletter, SUBSCRIBE NOW. Thank you to our sponsor, Intel.

THE 46TH

OPENING BELL Xavier Becerra will face influx of immigrant children on top of pandemic in Biden Cabinet job, by the SF Chronicles Tal Kopan: Republicans are already criticizing Biden for not denying entry to the children as former President Donald Trump did, and progressives are rebelling against any measures they see as reminiscent of Trumps anti-migrant policies.

THRIFTY SCHIFFY Adam Schiff Promoted by Powerful Allies for California Attorney General, by the WSJs Christine Mai-Duc and Siobhan Hughes: Mr. Schiff is a strong fundraiser, amassing $41 million in the last election cycle in large part to help Democrats retain control of the House. Such fundraising prowess could make him competitive in a re-election fight in 2022 andif the recall against Mr. Newsom qualifies for the ballotan important ally to the governor.

CHUS MOVE House Judiciary panel to hold hearing on rise of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans during Covid, by CNBCs Kevin Breuninger: Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have called on Congress to pass legislation aimed at improving hate-crime reporting and to provide more support to victims.

MADAM VP

VP TARGETED? DC police say Texas man arrested at VPs mansion had rifle, large capacity clip, by Fox 5s Evan Lambert and Lindsay Watts: According to internal police bulletins obtained by FOX 5, [the man] was said to be experiencing paranoid delusions and thought the government was after him. He purchased an AR-15 and told his mother he was in D.C. to take care of his problem.

TONY WESTS TAKE-HOME Vice President Harris Brother-in-Law Joins Top-Paid Uber Execs, by Bloomberg Laws Brian Baxter: West received nearly $12.3 million in total compensation, including nearly $10.9 million in stock awards, according to an annual proxy statement.

CAMPAIGN MODE

BOUDIN UNDER PRESSURE Effort to recall SF DA Chesa Boudin has put new focus on his incarceration and detention record, by The Appeals Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg: After more than a year in office, the San Francisco DAs policies have kept people out of jails and prisons. They have also drawn criticism and, now, a recall campaign.

LAUNCHED Former U.S. prosecutor announces bid to challenge first-term Orange County DA Todd Spitzer, by the OC Registers Tony Saavedra: Peter Hardin is backed by some of Spitzers biggest critics crime victims and former employees and armed with such slogans as leadership, not showmanship.

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CALIFORNIA AND THE CAPITOL CORRIDOR

SPACE RAGE Desk spacing arguments rage as big school districts plan April reopening, by CalMatters Ricardo Cano: While most of Californias largest school districts plan on having in-person instruction in April, theres still widespread disagreement on how close desks can be as well as other safety concerns.

NEXT HOUSING MOVE Oakland will study ending zoning laws that allow only single-family homes, by the East Bay Times Annie Sciacca/

BLOCKED AT&T halting some free data services in response to California law, by Reuters David Shepardson.

FIRE FALLOUT Wildfires made California air quality among worst in the world, even during pandemic, by the OC Registers Martin Wisckol

SF CORRUPTION SAGA Newly Released Messages Between Former SFPUC Chief and City Contractor Suggest Cozy Relationship, by KQEDs Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez: A federally indicted San Francisco official, who prosecutors allege offered insider details on a citywide contract in exchange for a jet-setting lifestyle provided by an admittedly crooked contractor, also may have sought improper help growing an undergarments manufacturing business in China, newly disclosed text messages show.

SILICON VALLEYLAND

Facebook’s long-awaited content ‘supreme court’ has arrived. It’s a clever sham, by Jeremy Lewin in the Guardian: Facebook faces a problem of two-sided economic incentives: dangerous and socially objectionable content is genuinely valuable to its bottom line, but so is the public perception that its proactively committed to maintaining a socially responsible and safe community. It designed the oversight board to escape this double-bind.

From Tipperary to Silicon Valley: how Stripe became vital cog in digital economy, by the Guardians Alex Hern: In little more than a decade the Collison brothers have developed Stripe, which has headquarters in Dublin and San Francisco, from a tech startup into a vital cog in the global digital economy, providing customer payment and other e-commerce services to brands ranging from Google, Amazon and Uber to Deliveroo, Spotify and Peleton.

As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic, by the WaPos Faiz Siddiqui and Andrew Van Dam.

Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmess Pregnancy Announcement Delays Her Highly Anticipated Fraud Trial, by Law and Crimes Adam Klasfeld.

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CANNABIS COUNTRY

California Distributes Additional $15M To Cannabis Social Equity Program Participants, by Benzingas Jelena Martinovic: This is the third time that cities in the Golden State that participate in social equity programs are awarded funding, building upon the $40 million California handed out earlier.

MEDIA MATTERS

NEW STYLE MAGAZINE DEBUTS The LA Times has published its first digital issue of Image, a celebration of the diversity, creativity and intellectual energy of Los Angeles.

MIXTAPE

“Atlanta spa shootings stir fear amid historic rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, by the LA Times Jaweed Kaleem and Richard Read

Flying debris, shattered windows, flames: Videos, terrified residents describe deadly Ontario explosion, by the LA Times Lila Seidman, Faith E. Pinho, Matthew Ormseth and Richard Winton.

Santa Ana passes new rule to allow non-citizens on boards; beefs up spending to defend immigrants, by the OC Registers Roxana Kopetman.

California elephant seals battle fear and hunger in their epic migration across the Pacific, by the SF Chronicles Tara Duggan.

Will LeBron James turn out to be the Boston Red Sox’ unlikely savior? by the Guardians Hunter Felt.

S.F. approves $1 billion Transbay tower, construction planned despite Salesforce’s canceled lease,by the SF Chronicles Roland Li.

This is getting stupid. How the quest to build a helipad next to Sheriff Villanuevas home turned ugly, by the LA Times Alene Tchekmedyian.

Seaweed-laced feed reduces methane in cow burps by 82%. Potential impact on greenhouse emissions, by the SF Chronicles Tara Duggan.

SF needs plan to protect trees and one agency in charge, by the SF Examiners Robyn Purchia.

IN MEMORIAM

ENGINEERING GIANT Stephen Bechtel Jr., 95, Dies; Led Familys Giant Engineering Firm, by the NY Times Robert D. Hershey Jr.

Beverage pioneer Greg Steltenpohl, founder of Odwalla and Califia Farms, has died, by the SF Chronicles Janelle Bitker.

TRANSITIONS

Emily Matthews, the communications manager for Covid-19 response at California Volunteers in the Office of the Governor, is the new public affairs and strategic communications manager for the San Francisco 49ers.

A message from APCIA:

Individuals just like you save money by buying their auto insurance through groups like unions, clubs, retailers, group memberships, and other associations. These discount programs are called affinity group programs, and California voters approved them at the ballot years ago. Insurance Commissioner Lara is putting these group discounts in jeopardy. While his proposal is well-intentioned, it would eliminate discount programs that save Californians money.

If insurance companies and groups are restricted or limited from offering discount programs, insurance costs would skyrocket across the state. These new regulations would affect health care workers, teachers, firefighters, veterans, seniors, and other consumers who rely on insurance discounts.

Far too many Californians know the difference that a few hundred dollars can make. These regulations would strip millions of people from savings that they depend on.

Please, tell Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to stand up for Californians and protect our discounts.

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