By Aaron Bergh, Master Distiller and Owner of Calwise Spirits Co.

What do politics and sex have in common? They’re the two subjects you’re not supposed to talk about in a professional setting. This strong conviction led me to maintain my business’s apolitical and nonpartisan stance from its founding. My business’s nonpartisanship will continue, but I cannot afford to be apolitical anymore. If California small business owners want to survive, it is imperative that we get involved – specifically, in supporting the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Too much time is spent talking about relatively petty reasons to dislike Gavin Newsom – such as his infamous soiree at the French Laundry or his inability to relate with the average Californian because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. There are many substantive reasons why Californians on both sides of the political aisle should reject Gavin Newsom’s governorship. 

Therefore, I feel confident publicly supporting the recall and want to encourage other business owners to mobilize too. Newsom’s political operatives know there is a valid case against the governor, which is why they are trying to discredit the recall effort as hyper-partisan.

Admittedly, there have been previous hyper-partisan recall attempts since he took office. I did not support those recalls, but I believe the current one transcends partisanship. Based on my first-hand experience collecting signatures, I can attest that both Republicans and Democrats are signing on. A broader cross-section of Californians recognize that the increasing magnitude of Newsom’s failures can’t wait to be judged for another two years. It necessitates an urgent re-evaluation of his leadership.

For me, the nearly yearlong business closures are Governor Newsom’s most damning error. I’ve had to lay off employees and struggle to balance my books due to poorly-planned, whimsical executive orders. 

According to the California Restaurant Association, restaurants employed 1.4 million Californians before the pandemic, and 30 percent are expected to close permanently. Data from Yelp is even more grim, suggesting that 60 percent of pandemic business closures nationwide will be permanent. But Governor Newsom has ignored the desperate pleas of business owners who are struggling to pay their employees and avoid losing the businesses they have built through years of hard work.

Even if you disagree that the business lockdowns should be less restrictive, there is a long list of additional examples of Newsom’s ineptitude. 

Amid the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression, laid-off employees cannot obtain unemployment insurance benefits in a timely manner from the state’s grossly dysfunctional Employment Development Department – aid from funds they paid into for years through their payroll taxes and were relying on to put food on the table for their families. Adding salt to the wound, the EDD has paid as much as $30 billion in fraudulent claims to incarcerated criminals and out-of-state residents – perhaps the largest welfare fraud in California’s history occurred right under Newsom’s nose. 

Despite having some of the highest tax rates in the nation, California continues to suffer from the nation’s highest poverty rate in the country and rising homelessness.

And while Newsom signed a law requiring a switch to electric vehicles by 2035, his administration can’t provide electricity to keep the lights on in our houses. The return of rolling blackouts is oddly reminiscent of the Governor Gray Davis years (he was recalled in 2003). 

When Governor Newsom shut down my business, he created a void in my life. I decided to fill it by working to ensure that he will no longer have a destructive impact on my life and the lives of Californians. I hope even more businesses will use their new-found free time to further the recall effort, and I implore the rest of California to join them.

Many of my customers complain about the prohibition preventing me from serving them a hot plate of food and a cocktail. When they do, I serve them a clipboard with a recall petition – and almost all of them sign it. 


Aaron Bergh is a guest opinion columnist for Morro Bay Life; you can email him at Bergh is the owner and distiller of Calwise Spirits Co., in Paso Robles. He is a concerned citizen not officially affiliated with the Recall Gavin Newsom organization. Bergh’s opinion piece first ran in the San Francisco Chronicle.