On Tuesday, California voters will decide whether Governor Gavin Newsom should be recalled and, if so, who should replace him.
Newsom, a Democrat and former mayor of San Francisco, has faced repeated recall attempts by Republicans, but this is the first to meet state law’s qualifications and make it to the vote box.
A petition launched the recall more than a year ago, accusing Newsom of favoring legislation that “benefit foreign nationals in our country unlawfully over our own residents.” It also criticizes Newsom for his support for “sanctuary city” immigration legislation and other progressive initiatives, as well as the state’s high taxes and homeless crisis.
The petition received more than 1.7 million signatures, much beyond the 1.49 million required for an official recall. When Newsom was elected governor in 2018, the number of people who signed the petition accounted for nearly 12% of all votes cast.
About a month before Election Day, ballots were mailed to all 22 million registered voters in the state. On the ballot, voters will be asked to vote on whether Newsom should be recalled and, if so, who should succeed him as governor.
Newsom will remain governor if a majority of voters vote “no” on the first question. If he obtains 50 percent plus one “yes” votes, he will be removed from office as governor, and the candidate who receives the most votes on the second question will serve out the remainder of Newsom’s term, which runs until January 2023.
A total of 46 candidates have qualified for the ballot, including 24 Republicans, 10 independents, nine Democrats, two Green Party candidates, and one Libertarian.
Larry Elder, a conservative talk radio broadcaster, is considered one of the top GOP candidates.
Elder, 69, has promised to repeal the state’s COVID-19 vaccine and mask regulations, and his campaign began claiming electoral fraud on Monday as polls suggested Newsom was likely to win the recall, similar to what former President Donald Trump claimed after losing to Democrat Joe Biden last November.
Trump, who often clashed with Newsom when he was president, last week told right-wing news outlet Newsmax that he believes the recall election is “probably rigged.”
Biden traveled to California on Monday to survey wildfire damage and to campaign for Newsom. At a stop in Long Beach, Biden cautioned Californians not to allow the Republican-led maneuver, or Trump’s influence, to take hold in the state.
“You can either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor, or you’ll get Donald Trump,” he said.
As for the other candidates on the ballot Tuesday — far behind Elder at the top of the field are fellow Republicans John Cox, the GOP nominee and loser of the 2018 gubernatorial race, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Democrat Kevin Paffrath, a 29-year-old YouTube star.
Since 1911, California law has allowed state voters to attempt to recall the governor. In fact, every governor in the past 60 years has faced a recall attempt. Newsom has faced seven, but this is the first to reach the ballot.
Aside from the election Tuesday, only one other attempt achieved enough signatures to trigger a recall vote — a 2003 effort that ultimately recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and elected action star and moderate Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. The actor, who was a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, was later elected to a second term and served until 2011.
California is a heavily Democratic state and hasn’t voted for a Republican president since George H.W. Bush in 1988. Aside from Schwarzenegger, the state elected two GOP governors during the latter half of the 1980s and most of the 1990s.
Since 1913, there have been 179 recall attempts of state elected officials in California. Eleven collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and six of those resulted in the official being recalled. There have been 55 efforts to recall the governor. The last successful recall of a state official occurred in 2018, when state Sen. Josh Newman was removed from office.