Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, facing a recall election: what you need to know


  • California voters will begin receiving ballots in the mail later this month ahead of the September 14 recall election.
  • The ballot will ask voters two questions: Do they want to recall Newsom, yes or no? If more than 50% of voters agree, then who should replace him?
  • Only two US governors were removed from their posts in a recall election – one in North Dakota in 1921 and the ouster of Gray Davis in California in 2003.

LOS ANGELES – Olympic athlete turned reality star. A conservative radio host who supports Donald Trump. A wealthy businessman who dragged a Kodiak bear on an election campaign.

California voters will soon decide whether any of them – or another of the more than 40 candidates on the ballot – will replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election that could mark just the third time in the election. US history that a sitting governor is removed from office. by voters.

The challenges of the state, from the housing crisis and homelessness, to crime and climate change that fuel water and electricity problems, are hot topics in a series of four debates leading up to the September 14 elections.

The first showdown between Newsom’s challengers came on Wednesday night, minus Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian who was in Australia to film a reality TV show, and Larry Elder, the right-wing talk show host who instead attended a fundraising event. At least four more debates are scheduled throughout August.

Changes in the polls, as well as the recent spate of COVID-19 cases and dozens of challengers vying to replace it – a list that also includes John Cox, the Republican businessman with the bear who was easily defeated by Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial election – further blurring the governor’s chances of keeping his job.

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The voting process, unlike typical elections, also poses a greater risk for Newsom, whose support declined during the COVID-19 pandemic as the state enacted some of the country’s toughest restrictions.

The recall election is being looked at nationally as a barometer of public mood heading into the 2022 election, when a tightly divided Congress will once again be on the line. A Republican upheaval in the state strongly Democrat would be a mind-boggling blame, and Newsom warned his ouster would have national implications in politics and policymaking.

Here’s what you need to know about the election:

Why is Gavin Newsom facing a recall vote?

Only 19 states have laws allowing mechanisms for dismissing governors. While successful recall efforts are incredibly rare, attempts are not. Newsom’s dismissal, for example, is the sixth attempt to have him dismissed in two years since his election.

The well-funded effort was promoted by determined Republicans – including big names like Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee.

COVID-19 and the stringent policies affecting Californians have given momentum to the effort. Newsom started the pandemic by being praised for being ahead of the rest of the country by issuing the first stay-at-home order and succeeding in keeping infections low at the start of the pandemic as other states saw a case explosion.

But as the pandemic progressed, fatigue increased.

The recall effort has increased due to several factors, including a judge extending by four months the period during which promoters were required to obtain signatures, from November to March, due to the virus. The extra time allowed the group to organize themselves more and raise additional funds.

Meanwhile, the effort garnered more attention and supporters as Newsom grabbed the headlines, including attending a dinner party at French Laundry – one of the world’s most exclusive restaurants – at one point. where he discouraged Californians from visiting family during the holidays. Support continued to grow as the Golden State saw an alarming spike in cases over the winter, especially in Los Angeles, even with Newsom’s strict security measures in place.

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The push against Newsom began in February 2020 and before COVID-19 had completely changed daily life. Supporters justified the recall on the basis of the governor’s position on a number of political issues, including taxes and immigration. It was carried out, however, amid the frustration over the closures linked to the pandemic.

Supporters have called for Newsom’s impeachment based on his actions to implement laws they say harm California citizens, according to the petition distributed to voters. They also oppose its moratorium on executions of death row prisoners and its positions on tax issues, water rationing and parental rights.

When is the recall election? How it works?

Opponents of Newsom handed over a million petition signatures to the California secretary of state, forcing the state to put the recall effort on the ballot.

The 1.6 million signatures handed in in April were about 100,000 more than needed to force a vote on the first Democratic term.

California voters will begin receiving ballots in the mail later this month ahead of the September 14 election.

The process is different from other elections. The ballot will ask voters two questions: Do they want to recall Newsom, yes or no? And if more than 50% of voters agree, then who should replace him?

There was no limit on the number of candidates who could stand for recall and 46 qualified for the ballot. The election says whoever gets the most votes wins – even without a majority, so it’s entirely possible that someone could be elected on a recall while winning less than half of the votes.

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In fact, with 46 candidates, it’s possible that a winner will emerge with as few as 20% of the vote if Newsom is recalled – a fraction of what a candidate would need in a typical election across the country. State.

That’s what happened in 2003. So-Calif. Governor Gray Davis was recalled by 55% of California voters, with movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger winning the election to succeed him with 48.6% of the vote.

Who is running for governor of California?

That’s a much shorter list than the 2003 recall election, which included over 100 candidates. This should be good news for Newsom, especially the lack of high profile Democrats who could have split the Liberal vote. Among the 46 qualified, 24 were listed as Republicans, nine as Democrats, 10 without party preference, two members of the Green Party and one libertarian.

The best-known contestant is Jenner, the former Olympic gold medalist who starred in the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” reality series. But Jenner has been eclipsed in recent polls by Elder, a black radio host who fiercely supports Trump and opposes the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former Rep. Doug Ose, California State Assembly Member Kevin Kiley and California State Equalization Board member Ted Gaines are d other prominent names that have sounded well.

Republican candidates described Newsom as incompetent and argued that his failed leadership inflicted unnecessary financial pain during the pandemic. Democrats sought to portray the contest as being run by far-right extremists and Trump supporters.

While nine Democrats have qualified for the ballot, the most prominent of them is Kevin Paffrath, a moderate who argues Newsom has led the state astray with broken policies. Paffrath works as a personal finance influencer with 1.68 YouTube subscribers.

How successful are recall elections?

Only four times in U.S. history has a recall effort against a governor garnered enough signatures to force an election like this one. And only two governors were removed from office in a recall election – one in North Dakota in 1921 and Davis’ ouster in California in 2003.

While it’s incredibly rare, Newsom has lost some of its once-comfortable edge, according to the polls, despite still managing to hold onto the majority. For months, Newsom seemed in a good position to fend off the recall attempt. But his position has fallen slightly, and polls show Republicans are eager to vote, while many Democrats have skipped the election.

And now, COVID-19 – the issue that initially supported the recall effort – is once again a problem for Newsom’s political future. The delta variant has increased in the state, as it has done nationally, and many communities have reinstated mask warrants indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The state has also started mandating weekly COVID-19 vaccines or tests for many employees.

Contribution: The Associated Press

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