LOS ANGELES (AP/KPIX) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday gave his State of the State address inside an empty Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, as the threat to his political career as California’s leader looms overhead.

“A year ago, a once in a century pandemic arrived on our shores,” Newsom said.

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The governor of the country’s most populous state stood inside one of California’s largest vaccination sites to deliver his address. Newsom said the seating at Dodger Stadium was almost the exact same number as the more than 53,000 Californians who have died from COVID-19.

“It was leveraged, as many of our politicians often times will do, they will leverage a painful, traumatizing moment in order to be a jumping off point for a political speech,” said San Jose State University Prof. of Public Relations Shaun Fletcher.

Newsom also spoke about closing inequities in vaccination efforts, returning students safely back into schools, touted a small business grant program as well as one of the largest infrastructure packages since the recession a decade ago.

But what the governor didn’t speak directly about was the effort to recall him. The petition has garnered nearly 2 million signatures, which makes a special election sometime this year highly likely.

“The California critics out there who are promoting partisan political power grabs with outdated prejudices,” Newsom said. “We will not be distracted from getting shots in arms.”

“Partisan political power grabs, that’s not what this is at all,” said Andrea Hedstrom.

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She is among those who signed the petition. A one-time supporter of the governor who voted for him and even named her son after Newsom, Hedstrom said she can no longer stand by his leadership.

“I guess I’m still a little bit spinning from what I heard,” said Hedstrom.

She said that she lost trust in Newsom because of his response to the pandemic, including the scandal over attending dinner at the famous French Laundry as the state was in a partial lockdown in November.

“We are talking about people having been without school for a year people, having lost the family business, the family home,” said Hedstrom.

Fletcher said time is on Newsom’s side to prove California will rebound from the pandemic as he adamantly said in his address.

“He set the table so to speak, now it’s going to be time to show Californians that he actually is who he says he is amid the recall, amid criticism,” said Fletcher.

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“This is our moment to create the California we all want to live in,” Newsom said as one of the last remarks in his address.