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Teresa Allaro talks to Francisco Debs, an emergency medical technician, about information on her coronavirus vaccination card at a San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department clinic for farmworkers at the Paso Robles Event Center.

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Good morning and welcome as always to the A.M. Alert!

Programming note: We’re still offering a one-month free subscription to our Recall Watch texts! You’ll get daily updates on the recall and will be the first to hear about our coverage. Plus, you can ask questions and get real responses from reporter Lara Korte. Normally subscriptions are $4/mo, but you can get the first month free by signing up with this link.

CALIFORNIANS BELIEVE THE WORST IS BEHIND US

There’s a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and it’s getting a whole lot brighter. At least, that’s what a majority of Californians believe.

Polling from the Public Policy Institute of California revealed that 74% of Californians believe that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, an increase of 16 percentage points from January.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that the state will soon make vaccines available to all Californians 16 and older. More and more counties are moving to less restrictive COVID-19 tiers.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, though.

A fifth of those surveyed, 21%, said that they believe the worst of COVID-19 is yet to come, though that’s down from 37% in January. They aren’t the only ones with a pessimistic outlook.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of “impending doom” if people stop taking COVID-19 precautions seriously as a result of more people being vaccinated. And President Joe Biden cautioned that the nation may see a fourth surge in cases if people aren’t careful.

“This is deadly serious,” Biden said.

NEW POLL SHOWS POSITIVE SIGNS FOR NEWSOM

Via Lara Korte…

If the recall election were held today, a majority of Californians would vote to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom, a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California reported last night.

In a poll conducted March 19-23, PPIC found 56% of likely voters would say no to a recall, 40% would say yes, and 5% were unsure.

It’s a positive sign for Newsom, who is likely to face a recall election in the fall, assuming at least 1.5 million of the 2.1 million signatures submitted by the effort are deemed valid by elections officials.

Newsom’s approval rating is also holding steady, PPIC reported. Fifty-three percent of likely voters approve of how he is handling the job today, essentially unchanged from the 52% approval rating in January. Even as Newsom has faced challenges over the past year, his approval ratings have held steady. In February 2020, prior to the pandemic, 52% of likely voters approved of his performance. Peak approval was May 2020 with 64%, according to PPIC.

It’s easy to compare Newsom’s current situation to the 2003 recall, which resulted in the removal of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. But Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, said it’s important to look at the differences.

The numbers show Newsom has much better support in 2021 than Davis did in 2003.

“The successful recall of the governor in 2003 occurred in a very different political context. Governor Gray Davis had been reelected by a 5-point margin in November 2002…Newsom was elected by a 24-point margin in November 2018 …,” Baldassare wrote in an accompanying blog post. “Democrats had a 9-point edge over Republicans in voter registration…. in 2003; today, they have a 22-point edge.”

Read more about the survey results here.

ZBUR IS RUNNING

He may not have been picked for California attorney general, but Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur isn’t done seeking public office. He announced Tuesday that he is running for the seat currently held by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, who is running for Los Angeles County supervisor.

“I’m running for Assembly District 50! Now more than ever, our communities need bold, progressive leaders who will fight for racial, gender, economic, environmental, educational and health equity and justice for all,” Zbur said in a tweet.

Zbur has already garnered a slew of endorsements, including from the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, State Controller Betty Yee, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and California Board of Equalization Chair Malia Cohen, according to a tweet from Samuel Garrett-Pate, spokesman for Equality California.

Garrett-Pate said Zbur also enters the race with $200,000 in cash on hand.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Breaking News Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and I today announced formation of the first ever California Native American Legislative Caucus. It will focus on educating the Legislature & Californians about Native American culture, history & ensure inclusion of the state’s First People on policy issues shaping the state. It will also work toward greater elected California Indian representation.”

– Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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