California Governor Gavin Newsom faces a special recall election after a Republican-sponsored petition to remove him from office surpassed its signature goal Monday.
Backers submitted 1,626,042 voter signatures, exceeding the minimum number needed to trigger a recall election. On Monday, California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber announced that the valid signatures contained in the latest report qualify the recall effort to move into the next phase of the process. This consists of a 30-day period where voters may submit written requests to the County Registrar asking for their names to be removed. If the petition still has a sufficient number of signatures, the California Department of Finance will then have 30 days to estimate the cost of the recall election and move forward with setting a date.
Given the amount of time needed to force a recall vote (the above steps could take up to 3 months), and barring any intervention by the courts, Newsom should face the election by the end of this year. A recent Emerson poll showed that only 40% of California voters supported recalling Newsom, while the recall petition tells another story. The signatures collected totaled about 12% of all ballots cast in the last gubernatorial election, which Newsom won by the largest margin in modern history. Once the signatures have been completely counted, voters will decide who should replace him if he is removed from office.
This effort marks the fifth attempt to recall Newsom and was initiated in January 2020. The original petition cited California’s high taxes, homelessness crisis, and immigration policies protecting immigrants entering the country illegally, as main concerns. In November of last year, photos circulated showing Newsom attending a high-end Napa Valley restaurant, maskless and with multiple people. Backlash ensued, and Newsom’s approval rating dropped under 50 percent.
California was hit incredibly hard in the COVID-19 pandemic, and many Californians became disgruntled with the way in which Newsom handled the situation. The decision to enforce government-mandated restrictions to stop the spread of the virus left millions without work and contributed to the petition gaining more traction. Today, California now has the lowest coronavirus case rate in the country, and Newsom is targeting June 15 for an economic reopening. As it sits now, Newsom’s job approval rating has steadied but has not deterred Republican candidates, including television personality Caitlyn Jenner, from moving in to replace him come election time.
The recall process is posed to be an expensive one, with local experts setting the price tag around $400 million. A final report of all examined signatures will be released this Friday. Additional information on the recall and recall process can be found here.