California Gov. Gavin Newsom says his anti-Republican ads are retribution for recall efforts

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom said political attack ads he’s funding that are running in Florida and Texas are retribution for the Republican-backed recall against him.

“It’s literally me taking advantage of the moment that I’m in,” Newsom said in an exclusive interview with CNBC. “I had to raise, I think we put over $80 million to defend ourselves in a recall last year. These guys nationalized the recall campaign against me. They went after our values, went after our people, went after things we hold dear in the state, and I’m just pushing back.”

Newsom successfully quashed a recall attempt last year in California. Asked if he’s getting ready for a presidential run, Newsom insisted that was not the case.

“I get to sleep at night,” Newsom said. “I get to sleep at night pushing back against bullies like Ron DeSantis.”

Newsom’s re-election campaign ran an ad in July on TV stations in Florida that slammed DeSantis. Freedom “is under attack in your state,” Newsom said in the ad. “I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight, or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate and the freedom to love.”

The 25-minute interview with Newsom followed the governor officially signing into legislation the Community Assistant, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) act, which he crafted to address the homeless issue in California. The bill will provide court-ordered care to the unhoused with severe mental disorders.

“It addresses what’s happening on our streets and sidewalks particularly with the most important issue: mental health,” Newsom said. “We see every single day people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, people with paranoia. Many, most, let’s be candid, self-medicating with drug or alcohol addictions.”

CARE court provides a rapid response for family members and first responders to petition a judge to order an evaluation of someone with a mental health disorder. If the person qualifies, the judge will set up a detailed CARE plan that could include housing.

“We see this manifested in California like no other state,” Newsom said. “It’s not unique to California, it’s just worse here. It’s an important issue that we haven’t been able to address.”

The legislation will be implemented statewide, beginning in seven counties including: San Francisco, Orange, Riverside and San Diego. Newsom said he hopes the program will eventually roll out across the country.  

Newsom also defended AB 257, the fast-food labor bill, which expands protections for fast-food workers.

“There’s sectors of our economy where workers don’t have a voice, where they don’t have a choice, where their health and safety are often compromised,” Newsom said. “A disproportionate number of women and minorities work in that sector. And it’s not just all teenagers, working for a few hours a week to make their way up, you have moms, people who work 20 years in the fast-food industry. And they’re stuck. We wanted to create some sectoral bargaining to give folks a little bit of a leg up, give them a little opportunity.”

The current minimum wage in California is $15 an hour for businesses with more than 25 employees. The law would allow the new 10-person council to increase the minimum wage up to $22, which has drawn some criticism from people who fear it will drive up the cost of going out to eat.

“I got an In-N-Out burger right down the block that’s offering $22 today, and can’t even find workers,” Newsom said. “The minimum wage, they blew past that in this economy some time ago. They’re just having a hard time finding workers, understandably so. Workers are saying, what you got for me?”

As part of the wide-ranging interview, Newsom also said: