Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Governor Newsom’s sudden disappearance from the public eye sparks speculation on social media

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Over the past two weeks, Governor Gavin Newsom has done something completely uncharacteristic: he has remained out of the public eye.

This is expected to conclude on Tuesday when he takes part in the Monterey Economic Summit, the first official event he has attended since October 27 and marks the end of an absence that has sparked days of chatter and criticism on social media, but little explanation from him. employees. …

After 20 months of taxation, spent by the state through a global pandemic and victory – although some of its proxies say it is inconvenient – remember that the election was superimposed on a busy legislature session and a bill signing period, a public event hiatus could go unnoticed by others. California government officials.

But not for the governor, who often seems to crave the spotlight and incite speculation by remaining silent after sharply missing out on an opportunity to publicize his and his government’s environmental achievements on the global stage last week.

Questions about his absence rose to the point that the governor’s office was finally forced to publicly try to suppress it.

Last week, Governor Newsom worked at the Capitol with staff on urgent matters including COVID-19 vaccines for children, boosters, ports, the upcoming state budget and California’s ongoing economic recovery. This week he will have public events related to the economy and vaccines, ”said Governor’s spokesman Daniel Lopez in a statement.

Four days after announcing that he would lead the California delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland, Newsom declined the trip on October 29, and his office said only that the father of four had “family responsibilities.”

The governor’s administration has not provided any further details over the past two weeks, despite repeated media inquiries. Newsom hasn’t hosted any other public events either, and the series was scheduled to end on Tuesday at the 2021 California Economic Summit, sponsored by California Forward. Newsom will not answer reporters’ questions and will instead choose to take part in an onstage conversation with his former chief economic adviser, Lenny Mendonka.

The governor’s public absence began the day after he was boosted against COVID-19 in Auckland on October 27, surrounded by supporters and reporters. Critics of the COVID-19 vaccine and skeptics wondered if he was having an adverse reaction. …

“Governor Newsom has repeatedly reassured that vaccines are safe. With rumors circulating about the timing of his disappearance (immediately after receiving the booster), I hope he will show up soon to explain his absence and I hope he is healthy, ”Senator Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) wrote on Monday. in a Twitter post. Melendez is one of the few lawmakers to have refused to disclose their vaccination status.

Newsom did not have a negative reaction to the booster vaccine, and neither he nor his wife had COVID-19, as his employees have repeatedly told The Times over the past two weeks. However, in September, two of Newsom’s children tested positive for COVID-19.

The governor’s wife, documentary filmmaker Jennifer Sibel Newsom, tweeted Sunday night urging critics to “get a life.” After a few minutes, she deleted the tweet.

“It’s funny how some people can’t accept the truth. When someone cancels something, they may just be working in the office; maybe in their free time they are at home with their family, at their children’s sports matches, or having dinner with their wife. Please stop hating and get life, ”she wrote in a deleted post.

Jessica Levinson, director of the Loyola Law School Civil Service Institute, said Newsom has been involved in politics long enough to know that the vague explanation he gave for canceling his trip to the UN climate summit must spark wild speculation.

“It just seems like an unforced error,” Levinson said. “He had the ability to control the narrative. He knows that we all fall into speculation, crazy assumptions and baseless rumors, and that if he does not give an explanation, this should happen. “

Levinson said Newsom and his family deserve a degree of privacy, but that he should have been more transparent as head of the largest state in the country, home to some 40 million people, amid a deadly pandemic.

“He has an incredibly important job,” Levinson said. “He’s not a private person.”

Vogue magazine photos of Newsom and his wife attending the social wedding of Ivy Getty, great-granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, to photographer Tobias Engel at San Francisco City Hall on Saturday only added drama.

“Newsom has been missing for more than a week, reportedly showing up at the wedding of an oil heiress,” read a headline in a Fox News headline.

Newsom was scheduled to arrive for the climate summit in Scotland on November 1 and fly out of London on November 4, which still gave him time to attend the wedding. And the decision to cancel the overseas trip came after several stressful months for the 54-year-old governor.

Newsom easily fended off an attempt by Republicans to remove him from office after zigzags across the state condemned the effort as being the work of vehement supporters of the former President Trump and supporters of vaccinations.

The day after the recall on September 14, he began a six-week stretch of more than a dozen press conferences, cruising between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, with stops in Fresno, Orange County, Mercede and Sequoia National Park. The events were meant to highlight his administration’s response to the pandemic and encourage Californians to get vaccinated, take a tour of the Huntington Beach oil spill and advertise dozens of new bills he signed.

One of Newsom’s staunch critics, MP Kevin Keely (R-Rocklin), appears to have attacked the governor no matter what he did. Keely was among 46 candidates who ran to replace Newsom in the recall election, receiving 3.5% of the vote.

On October 27, Keely criticized Newsom for going to Scotland in the first place: “Why are Governor Newsom and 15 lawmakers traveling to Scotland if the crisis in our ports threatens the US economy?” – he wrote on Twitter.

On the day Newsom canceled his plans to travel overseas, Keely seemed to gain recognition in another message: “Following my criticism, Governor Newsom abruptly canceled his trip to Scotland for a UN climate conference.”

Keely took another hit on Sunday, with reservations: “I don’t know where Gavin Newsom is, and I’m not going to speculate. But it is rather strange for the governor to disappear for 11 days without explaining the reasons.

Newsom’s absence from the public scene may have attracted attention in part because of the way he approached his duties as governor. Previous governors have chosen a different path.

Former Governor Jerry Brown often performed his duties behind closed doors, preferring to invite the media to only a few events that were meant to help sell his political agenda.

In most cases, Brown did his job quietly, both in Sacramento and during secret visits to the communities where he met with local officials. Brown, who attended Jesuit seminary in his youth and spent nearly half a century in California politics, enjoyed his role as an elderly statesman and seemed to gravitate more towards contemplation than flattery.

Other governors, most notably former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, were more prominent than Brown. But they, too, sometimes went out of sight and took leave during periods when the Legislature was in recess.

Times staff writer John Myers contributed to this report.

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