THE BUZZ — NEWSOM HEADS TO RECALL COUNTRY: Gov. Gavin Newsom hit Fresno Tuesday to sign some big education bills, but there was no escaping the tough political realities he faces in red California.

While Newsom may have beaten the recall in a landslide, more than a dozen counties within the rural, conservative and oft-overlooked Central Valley voted to recall him, Fresno County among them.

“I want folks here in the Valley — no matter where you were in the recall, you could have been 80 percent pro-recall — just [to know that] you matter. And we’ve got to do more to demonstrate that,” Newsom insisted in response to reporters’ questions, after signing two bills on early childhood education at Fresno’s Sunset Elementary School. The Fresno Bee ran his next comment as a headline: “I’m going to be back here until they kick me out, many, many times, to make that point.”

‘THE GREAT UNITER’? “Gavin, the Great Uniter,” quipped one of the political cognoscenti in town. And unite he did.

Newsom was sandwiched in Fresno on one side by Republican Mayor Jerry Dyer — who supported onetime Newsom rival Antonio Villaraigosa for governor — and Democratic Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula. They’re two men who have no great love for each other, to put it mildly; they locked horns when Dyer was the city’s police chief, and when Arambula was arrested in 2018 and tried for allegedly abusing his daughter. Arambula was acquitted, and Arambula’s parents later donated nearly $100,000 to a PAC to defeat Dyer’s run for mayor.

And the political turf of the Fresno region is still very much divided: Democrats have control of the City Council for the first time ever, but the Republicans have control over the Board of Supervisors. And there’s more local drama, as GVWire’s Bill McEwen recently documented, over potential corruption in Fresno’s local government.

Newsom aimed for a fresh start Tuesday by putting Fresno in center stage on early childhood education. Surrounded by legislators, he signed bills to boost universal transitional kindergarten by 2025 and create college savings accounts for 3.7 million kids, as GVWire’s David Taub reported.

But the governor’s chances of upping his poll numbers in the area look to be daunting, given the Central Valley media market. The powerhouse local radio station, KMJ — where Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has a weekly platform with talk show host Ray Appleton — was strongly pro-recall and still dedicates much of its airtime to lambasting Newsom and President Joe Biden.

UPHILL BATTLE: “I’m deeply concerned about our politics. I’m deeply concerned about our divisions,’’ Newsom said, in an acknowledgement of these regional differences. “Our differences are so insignificant compared to the things we share in common.’’

But the Central Valley’s more conservative factions will be watching to see whether Newsom will make good on his promises to bridge the divide on issues of importance to this ag-heavy region, like managing droughts and wildfires and dealing with unemployment and high housing costs.

ALREADY GEARED UP: As Ken Stone of the Times of San Diego reported, recall campaign founder Orrin Heatlie, a retired Yolo County sheriff sergeant, along with co-founder Mike Netter have already formed a new PAC called Rebuild California to bring the heat in 2022. Newsom may have to log a lot of miles on Highway 99 in the coming months if he wants to change the political landscape. Stay tuned.

SPOTTED: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined Newsom at the Fresno event — an appearance that came just days after he raised eyebrows for missing a major announcement last week about mandatory vaccines for kids and staff in California’s K-12 classrooms, and after Newsom dodged a question about an investigative piece by POLITICO’s Mackenzie Mays on disarray in Thurmond’s office. Thurmond’s spokesperson Marie Clayton, in response to POLITICO, said Thurmond and Newsom “are routinely together promoting their work on behalf of California students,’’ and have remained “strong partners” for educational funding and reforms throughout the pandemic.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Wednesday morning. Tonight may be the only time you’ll catch us rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers — but only so we get the matchup with the San Francisco Giants that everyone outside of St. Louis wants to see.

Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit cmarinucci@politico.com or jwhite@politico.com or follow us on Twitter @cmarinucci and @jeremybwhite.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The buck stops with Mark. There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself.” — Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen at yesterday’s Congressional hearing.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Assemblymember @LorenaSGonzalez, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off: “I did a few hours of work today AND drove to the grocery store! I drove a little slow, but I did it! (First time post surgery!) I’m anxious to get back, but this was a big step! If I can drive, you can make sure a loved one gets their mammogram scheduled! #BreastCancer”

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Vice President Kamala Harris stars in a new “Get Curious with Vice President Harris” special encouraging kids to get excited about space, via People Magazine.

WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.

TOP TALKERS

SOCIAL MEDIA SWIRL — Whistleblower to Senate: Don’t trust Facebook, by POLITICO’s Alexandra S. Levine, Claire Rafford, Julia Arciga, Emily Birnbaum and Benjamin Din: Haugen said the world’s largest social network has “put their astronomical profits before people.”

ZUCK’S RESPONSE: Posted last night on Facebook, it starts with what may be the corporate understatement of the year: “Hey everyone: it’s been quite a week.”

WHAT DID WE MISS? “A Day Without Facebook,” by The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost: “Yesterday became a day without Facebook when the company’s services went offline. It wasn’t just that the website was down, but all traces of it were gone, as if it had been raptured into oblivion.”

ANGELENO VS. BOSTONIAN — “Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” by Robert Kolker in NYT Magazine.

KNOW ANYONE IN MORRO BAY? — “Powerball ticket worth $699.8 million sold in California,” via the AP: “Thanks to nearly four months of futility and final ticket sales, the Powerball jackpot has climbed to $699.8 million, making it the seventh largest in U.S. lottery history.”

MALIBU AND MORE — “A Look at the Lavish Real Estate Revealed in the Pandora Papers,” by Architectural Digest’s Jessica Cherner: “From clifftop Malibu mansions to stately London homes, these are the properties world leaders allegedly use to hide their wealth and avoid taxes.”

CHANGE OF PACE, ENJOY … “The story of L.A.’s oddball flag. Wait, L.A. has a flag?” opines the LA Times’ Patt Morrison.

ORANGE COUNTY OIL SPILL:

IT’S OFFICIAL — “California declares state of emergency in response to massive oil spill,” by CBS NEWS’ Tori B. Powell: “Newsom has declared a state of emergency for Orange County in response to a massive oil spill near Huntington Beach over the weekend. The county’s board of supervisors also declared a local emergency on Tuesday.”

CAUSE AND EFFECT: “Did a wayward ship anchor cause Orange County oil spill? Here’s what we know,” by the LA Times’ Richard Winton and Ian James: “A source familiar with the probe told The Times that the Coast Guard is investigating whether a large commercial ship set anchor in the wrong location, damaging an oil pipeline that moves crude from a platform eight miles offshore to a refinery on land. The anchor dragged the pipeline as much as 150 feet, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.”

AND THERE’S THIS … “Split spotted in pipeline that leaked oil along OC coastline, part of pipeline had bowed out of place,” by the Orange County Register’s Tess Sheets.

LAWSUIT CITY — “Huntington Beach Oil Spill: DJ Sues Amplify Energy In Los Angeles Federal Court Over Loss Of Business, Exposure,” via CBS Los Angeles.

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