By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS133) — Gov. Gavin Newsom is defending his decision to lift the statewide stay-at-home order against criticism it’s a move to weaken the recall effort against him.

The governor was quick to clamp down on claims the surprise had anything to do with the recall attempt.

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“That’s just complete, utter nonsense, so let’s just dispense with that,” Newsom said during a press conference Monday.

“I think it’s enormously tied to it,” Republican political strategist Tab Berg said.

Berg is the organizer of “Re-Open Cal Now.” The event was aimed at repealing COVID-19 state guideline restrictions. Berg is not part of a Newsom recall campaign, but he predicts it will reach a statewide ballot.

“Lifting the order gives him some PR, but it’s not going to be enough to stem the tide,” Berg said.

Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio calls the recall effort a right-wing attack.

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“The only way I see it qualifying is if a court comes in and gives them additional time to get them,” Maviglio said.

Maviglio said that the governor’s decision to lift the stay-at-home order is already proving politically costly.

“You know he’s offended Democrats today by not notifying them of his actions today,” Maviglio said. “He needs to focus, build a relationship with the legislature, both parties by the way, and get things done, because right now it looks like he is flailing and that’s not helping anybody.”

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Governor Newsom’s COVID-19 guidelines. His policies and politics are facing scrutiny during this global pandemic.

“More declines in ICUs, and that’s why we are lifting that stay-at-home order today,” Newsom said.

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The California Secretary of State’s office has given the recall campaign titled “Rescue California” until March 17 the qualify for a ballot. The recall campaign needs 1.5 million valid signatures to qualify. Its website reads a million signatures have been collected so far.