California Gov. Gavin Newsom, facing GOP-led recall, criticized by Democrats over COVID-19 response

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California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, already busy fending off a growing GOP-led recall threat, is now dealing with a new front of attacks from members of his own party over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats have been mostly reluctant to speak out criticize the governor, fearing that it would provide fodder for the recall campaign. But in recent weeks, a number of prominent Democrats and Democratic operatives have begun to openly voice some of their frustrations.

Much of the criticism stems from what many regard as the lack of transparency in Newsom’s administration. State health officials have largely refused to publicly release the data on which Newsom is basing his orders.

FILE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines his 2021-2022 state budget proposal during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif.  (AP)

Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman told the Los Angeles Times that many lawmakers have been left in the dark regarding the governor’s rationale behind his orders.

"I would have loved to have a better understanding of the rationale behind a lot of these decisions and the data behind them, and I think the public should know that data as well," Friedman said. "It would make people feel much more comfortable with the different executive actions that are handed down and the different orders. I would have loved it if months back, we really understood what was coming and that the public understood a little bit more."

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Still, Friedman, like many of her Democratic colleagues, remains firmly committed to supporting Newsom.

"I think that what’s going to hurt Newsom in the end more than anything is not people speaking out, but him failing," Friedman told The Times. "So, the best way that I can keep him from being recalled is to help him succeed."

Former director of the California Department of Public Health Karen Smith said Gov. Newsom needs to do a better job of informing the public why his administration makes major decisions – particularly when it involves reversing or imposing a new lockdown order.

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"This guy’s worst problems, even including politically, come from the fact that they just don’t communicate well and they certainly don’t take the time to communicate in a way that introduces people to something, gives them more information, and then you effectuate it," Smith said. "It’s crazy, because that’s sort of basic and how you talk to people when you want to get them on your side."

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