SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – As supporters of a recall campaign against Gov. Gavin Newsom get closer to their signature goal, a new poll finds the governor’s approval rating has dropped below 50%.

The poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found Newsom’s approval rating is at 46%, which is down from the 60% approval he had four months ago.

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Recall organizers say the effort by Californians is growing, as they seek to collect 1.5 million valid signatures.

“Every year our hills are on fire, our power goes out, we have homeless tents,” said Mike Netter of RecallGavin2020.com

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, announced this week he would be running for governor. Faulconer indicated that he would run either this year if the recall effort qualifies, or in 2022, when Newsom would be up for re-election if the effort fails.

“I think they’re worried, and I think rightfully so, because they haven’t been getting the job done in California,” said Faulconer.

Recently, even Bay Area public officials have become more critical of the governor.

“I think every time the governor gets involved in trying to manage the pandemic, he makes mistakes because he’s making political decisions and not healthcare decisions,” Santa Clara County Executive Officer Dr. Jeff Smith told KPIX 5.

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“There’s no reason why our state is in the very last bottom in vaccine rollouts. It’s directly and unfortunately a failure of the administration,” said Faulconer.

A spokesperson for the Newsom campaign blasted Faulconer’s campaign, saying “Trying to exploit a global pandemic to advance a political career exposes his craven ambition.”

Recall supporters point to the ouster of Gov. Gray Davis back in 2003. But the odds of a similar outcome have to be weighed by Newsom’s current status within the party.

“He has strong relationships with other leaders in the Democratic Party, whereas Davis had much lower approval ratings and had made many enemies in Democratic Party,” said UC San Diego Political Science Department Chair Thad Kousser. “That sets Newsom up for much better success, than the last time a Democratic governor faced a recall.”

In a recall election, a majority must vote to remove the Governor, and then choose who should replace him.

For recall supporters, one of the major hurdles in is collecting enough signatures. Organizers need at least 1.5 million signatures by Mid-March, but likely much more, since a certain portion of signatures are deemed invalid during an official count.

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Supporters said they have collected 1.3 million signatures so far.