Can Newsom recall challengers politically weaponize California's power grid?

As rising temperatures increase pressure on California's power grid, they're also being weaponized politically to put the heat on Gov. Gavin Newsom in his recall election.

"This is politics," said Raphe Sonenshein, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles. "Basically, they're trying to win and... if you see something on the horizon that could be a problem for the governor, then it would make sense to aim at that."

Several of those hoping to win Newsom's office are looking to use this week's Flex Alerts and potential power outages in the future to their advantage. Among them is Republican challenger John Cox who tweeted, "Gavin Newsom may be power-hungry, but California shouldn't be. We need real leadership to fix our broken power grid."

TOTAL RECALLED: The story of America's largest, wildest governor recall election
EMBED More News Videos

With a recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom looming, ABC7 Originals presents, "Total Recalled: The story of America's largest, wildest recall election," a look at the Gray Davis recall and election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.



Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is also running against Newsom, retweeted, "Last year, CA experienced rolling blackouts for the first time in 20+ years. Now, Californians are being warned that this unacceptable reality may be occurring again as temperatures heat up into the weekend."

The Republican candidate tells our sister station KABC: "This energy grid failure is another example of the continued failures of Gavin Newsom who can't even keep the lights on."

RELATED: When will the Newsom recall election happen? Some Democrats want it as early as August

Newsom undoubtedly fears a Texas-like grid disaster. The power system there collapsed last winter, leaving millions without electricity, heat or hot water.

As this week's heat wave sets in, the governor signed an emergency proclamation. It suspended certain permitting requirements, allowing power plants to ramp up operations if necessary.

Newsom is also going on the offensive. He released his first recall-related television ad this week. It highlights his programs steering billions of dollars to low-income and middle-class residents and small businesses, as well as providing free preschool for all children.

Newsom recall election to cost $215M, state says, as Democrats push for earlier date
EMBED More News Videos

A new poll shows 56% of likely California voters would vote to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office if a recall election were held today.



Sonenshein sees this as problematic for Newsom's challengers.

"Arguing against the governor giving out prizes is not the world's most effective political strategy against the governor," he said. "This is a year when people want things and they want things from the government."

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.