Backers of an effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom have turned in enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed Monday, clearing the way for voters in the Golden State to decide whether to remove a governor mid-term for only the second time in California history.
California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber said the threshold of verified signatures reported by counties has been met for the recall of Newsom, with a total of 1,626,042 submitted exceeding the 1,495,709 required.
Weber said Monday that those who signed petitions for the recall now have 30 business days in which they may submit written requests to their county registrars of voters to remove their names if they change their minds.
“A recall election will be held,” Weber said, “unless a sufficient number of signatures are withdrawn.”
Newsom, a Democrat, has characterized the effort as driven by supporters of former Republican President Donald Trump. But his campaign to fight the recall said in emailed donation solicitation to supporters Monday afternoon that “I am not going to take this fight lying down.”
“There is too much at stake, and I intend to win,” Newsom said in his fundraising pitch. “If these right-wing recall leaders are successful, it would mean risking the progress we are making fighting the pandemic. It would mean turning the state over to a anti-mask, anti-vaxx, pro-Trump extremists.”
California governors have frequently been targeted by recall drives — Newsom has faced six. But only once before has one qualified for the ballot, in 2003 when voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, and replaced him with Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“The People of California have done what the politicians thought would be impossible,” said Orrin Heatlie, the lead proponent of the Recall Gavin Newsom campaign and founder of the California Patriot Coalition. “Our work is just beginning. Now the real campaign is about to commence.”
County election officials have until April 29 to finish verifying signatures and then, after a few other steps, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is likely to call for an election around November. Voters would be asked two questions: first, whether they want to get rid of Newsom, and second, who they want to replace him. If a majority of voters say they want to oust Newsom, then the candidate with the most votes on the second question becomes the next governor.
So far, several Republicans have said they plan to challenge Newsom, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and John Cox, whom Newsom handily defeated for governor in 2018. Faulconer said Monday that “Californians from all walks of life are seizing this historic opportunity to demand change,” while Cox said “we are going to shake up Sacramento and take California in a new direction.”
Perhaps more intriguing, former Olympian turned reality-TV icon Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican and transgender advocate, filed paperwork to join the race on Friday. Newsom said in his fundraising email that Jenner is running “with the help of Donald Trump’s campaign manager.”
There’s also the possibility that another Democrat could jump into the race, which could complicate Newsom’s efforts to hang onto his job.
The Secretary of State’s office did not provide a party breakdown of those who signed recall petitions. But polling has suggested the support is chiefly among Republicans in heavily Democratic California.
A Public Policy Institute of California poll last night found 79% of Republicans support the recall compared with 42% of Independents and 15% of Democrats, and that overall, 56% of likely voters would vote against removing Newsom from office while 40% would vote to oust him.
But the recall effort, clearly has some support from Democrats and voters choosing no party, much of it driven by anger from parents that Newsom has allowed California’s public schools to trail the country in reopening, even though he’s acknowledged it is hurting kids’ education.
Paul Hainsworth, a technology chief executive in Berkeley, said Saturday on Twitter that he’s a Democrat supporting the recall because of Newsom’s “failed leadership on school reopening.”
Cali Gov @GavinNewsom’s ppl texted me to support his efforts to stop the recall against him. When I raise his failed leadership on school reopening, “Jill” blamed it on local school districts. #openschools pic.twitter.com/axGAhEDHli
— Paul Hainsworth (@mouthy) April 24, 2021
The recall has intense support in conservative pockets, particularly in the northernmost reaches of the state, the Central Valley and in the Sierra foothills. Support is predictably low in the more liberal Bay Area, where voters widely backed Newsom’s election for governor. Heatlie, who retired as a sergeant with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, and the group Rescue California, led by former California GOP chair Tom Del Beccaro, have helped propel the recall.
But many political analysts say that the recall effort is unlikely to pose a major threat to the sitting governor. While many recall supporters are conservative Republicans who have long disliked Newsom’s more progressive policies, some Democrats frustrated with his handling of pandemic-time school and business closures also signed on. But now that the state has started to reopen, with many kids returning to school, their opposition may fade.
If life returns to some semblance of normal, “I think a lot of the anger dissipates. Some of it will be there, but I think a lot of it will,” Larry Gerston, a political science professor emeritus at San Jose State University who wrote a book on the successful 2003 Gray Davis recall effort, told this news organization last month. Gerston added that Jenner’s entry into the race won’t likely alter the recall landscape, and that with polls suggesting Newsom an uphill road for the recall, there’s little incentive for a familiar Democrat to jump in.
But, Gerston also warned, Newsom will have to avoid more gaffes like the infamous French Laundry dinner, where the governor was caught dining with a group in the middle of the pandemic at a swanky Napa Valley restaurant despite telling residents to stay home and avoid unnecessary contact with other households.
A March poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that while around four in 10 likely voters would vote to remove Newsom, more than half of Californians approve of his job performance and most residents say the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is in the past.
Newsom hasn’t spent much time addressing the recall, focusing on the pandemic and drought conditions in recent months. But he acknowledged to CNN in March that he was “worried about it” and “taking it seriously.”
Source: Orange County Register