Opinion | How Nervous Should Gavin Newsom Be?

By Miriam Pawel

Ms. Pawel, a contributing Opinion writer, has written extensively about California politics and history and supervised coverage of the Gray Davis recall election for The Los Angeles Times.

Two events that attracted scant notice on Nov. 6, 2020, speak to how quickly political fortunes can change in California.

In Sacramento, a judge granted an obscure group extra time to collect signatures in a long-shot effort to force a vote to recall Mr. Newsom. The secretary of state could muster only less-than-compelling objections to the extension: He had recently acquiesced readily to the same request, before the same judge, to grant extra time for an initiative to legalize sports betting at casinos run by Native American tribes, major donors to state Democrats.

That evening, Mr. Newsom attended the birthday party of a close friend and prominent lobbyist at the deluxe French Laundry restaurant in Napa, flouting protocols he preached during the pandemic.

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