Igor Tregub (left), vice chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party and an organizer in the East Bay, worked to oppose the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Photo/Courtesy Igor Tregub)
Igor Tregub (left), vice chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party and an organizer in the East Bay, worked to oppose the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Photo/Courtesy Igor Tregub)

With recall victory, one less thing for Jewish Dems to worry about this Yom Kippur

Jewish Democrats in California can observe Yom Kippur with easy minds, knowing Gavin Newsom will continue to serve as governor.

Despite a recall effort supported by state Republicans who complained about Newsom’s strict Covid-19 public health measures and cited his French Laundry restaurant debacle as a reason to boot him out, the governor came out on top. As of Wednesday afternoon, 5.8 million voters had rejected the recall and 3.2 million voted in favor.

Recall frontrunner and conservative radio show host Larry Elder conceded Tuesday night, but he indicated it may not be his last venture into politics.

Meanwhile, Jewish Democrats rejoiced after what they described as an effort driven by the extreme right.

“Californians rejected GOP extremism,” blared a graphic in an email Wednesday from the Jewish Democratic Council of America. “The overwhelming defeat of the Republican effort to recall Governor Newsom is not just a win for Californians,” it said, “but for all Americans who support democracy, science, and truth.”

Igor Tregub, a Jewish Democratic volunteer in Berkeley, called the special election “a $276 million distraction.”

As chair of the state’s Democratic environmental caucus and vice chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party, Tregub has worked since early August organizing phone banks and door-knocking, among other efforts to fight the recall. While early polling at the beginning of August showed a tight race, projections decisively turned toward Newsom as the voting deadline approached.

Igor Tregub and Rep. Barbara Lee last week at a rally with Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo/Courtesy Igor Tregub)
Igor Tregub and Rep. Barbara Lee last week at a rally with Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo/Courtesy Igor Tregub)

Tregub said the policies some candidates were pushing in the recall effort, particularly cracking down on immigration and getting rid of a minimum wage, were “offensive” to him as a Jew and an immigrant.

“Part of the messaging that was put out was absolutely against what we would commonly call Jewish values, [like] inclusivity,” said Tregub, who was born in Ukraine and came to the United States in 1994 by way of Israel and Germany.

“Last night we celebrated,” he said.

In the lead-up to the recall election, some opponents of the effort saw Jews as a key voting constituency since they are more likely to vote Democratic. The JDCA, a political action committee and lobbying organization that describes itself as “the political voice of Jewish Democrats,” said it reached more than 335,000 Jews in the state through phone banking, emails and other outreach techniques, according to an email the group sent out Tuesday celebrating the recall’s defeat.

Rachel Bracker, board chair of the Progressive Zionists of California, also cheered the recall result. She said Newsom’s policies handling the pandemic and responding to antisemitism align with Jewish priorities; she added that the governor’s vaccine mandates for teachers and health care workers are also policies that Jews, the most likely religious group to be vaccinated, are likely to support.

Bracker also pointed to recent initiatives by the California Jewish Legislative Caucus that Newsom has stood behind, including efforts to increase security at synagogues.

“[Newsom] supported a lot of legislation that is congruent with Jewish values that so many across the state share,” Bracker said.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.