SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With recall ballots in the mail, Gov. Gavin Newsom is ratcheting up his attacks on his Republican challengers.
While campaigning at a union hall in San Jose on Monday just miles from the location of the VTA railyard mass shooting, Newsom went after leading alternate candidate Larry Elder for his opposition to gun control.
"Doesn't believe in an assault weapon's ban," Newsom said as he stood alongside San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "And Mr. Mayor, how offensive is that? Here in Santa Clara County ravaged by weapons of war."
The increased attacks are part of the Governor's strategy to fire up Democrats. His team also released a new campaign ad on Monday drawing contrast between Newsom's strategy to combat the pandemic versus the Republicans vying to replace him.
"Newsom is protecting California. Requiring vaccination for healthcare workers and school employees," a voiceover says. "The top Republican candidate he peddled deadly conspiracy theories and would eliminate vaccine mandates on day one."
Elder has said he does not believe in mask or vaccine mandates. He released his own ad over the weekend - about school choice.
"I favor school choice, he doesn't," Elder says of Newsom. "I favor giving parents an option out. He doesn't."
Despite Democrats' 20 point advantage in voter registration, Newsom continues to face an enthusiasm gap with Republicans energized to vote and some Democrats apathetic. A new poll from the CBS News/YouGov found that among Californians most likely to vote the recall is still nearly event split.
"The bets are off and every bit of fire power the Democrats have will be unleashed," Democratic strategist Steven Maviglio told ABC7 News.
Part of that strategy is bringing in the big names. President Biden is planning to campaign with Newsom in the coming weeks, but with a crisis unfolding in Afghanistan the timing could now be tricky.
"The timing is not good for Gavin Newsom now," Maviglio said. "He wants people to focus on what the Democrats and Congress just passed: the big infrastructure bill, housing, eviction, social spending."
"And if those things get buried under Afghanistan and what's going on nationally in the other direction for Democrats, he's going to be in trouble."
On Monday, Newsom brushed off those concerns. Asked if President Biden's handling of the situation in Afghanistan complicates whether or not he is the person Newsom wants standing by his side to rally supporters, the Governor said absolutely not.
"I'm incredibly proud of President Biden. Incredibly enthusiastic to have his support on the 'no' vote," he told ABC7 News anchor Liz Kreutz. "And I look forward to him coming out here."
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