Eighteen years after the last recall of a California governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom is on the verge of being recalled in the midst of a complicated political process that could end with a new authority at the head of the state.
Although the signature count to recall Newsom has not yet been completed, it is expected to be ready by the end of April, when the future of the current governor will be known.
According to the California secretary of state’s office, this is the sixth official attempt to recall Newsom since he took office in 2019.
The governor was elected with 62% of the vote two years ago and has seen his approval ratings slip because of measures to shut down businesses, keep schools closed and poorly undertake vaccine rollouts.
Pro-recall voters gathered more than 2,000,000 signatures and in the early review election officials already deemed many of them valid. According to ABC News, by March 11 the state had received 1,834,770 signatures and reviewed 1,454,710. So far, 81.7% of them have been deemed valid.
What can Gavin Newsom do?
The state has until April 29 to verify the signatures submitted. It then has 10 days to verify that the signatures meet the required threshold.
The rules governing the recall process state that the same voters who spoke in favor of recall could remove their signatures from the petition.
State election law provides 30 business days for voters to remove their names from the list. Those who choose to do so would have to file a written request with the elections office in their county of residence.
It remains up to Newsom’s Democratic allies to convince a good number of voters to withdraw their signatures. However, it may be an impossible mission given that some two million signatures have been collected. In any case, the governor of California has launched a campaign to prevent his recall.
How do we know who will replace Newsom after his possible recall?
Once the signatures have been counted and approved, candidates vying to replace the current governor will have 24 hours to submit all relevant documentation in order to take a place on the ballot.
The ballots that will be given to voters in California include a two-part question. They will be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and if the answer is yes, they will be asked to nominate a candidate to replace him. By law, Newsom will not be allowed to run again.
In a gubernatorial recall, replacement candidates would likely have to file their paperwork, along with a fee of nearly $4,200 or, in lieu of the fee, submit at least 7,000 voter signatures, no later than 59 days before Election Day.
If Gavin Newsom’s recall qualifies for the ballot, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis must schedule the election within 60 to 80 days after the announcement.
Why is Gavin Newsom likely to be recalled?
Newsom has been embroiled in scandals that could take a toll on him at the time of his recall. In late 2020, photographs uploaded to the internet were made public in which the governor was shown mingling, maskless, among guests at a dinner at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley. Newsom apologized for attending and called it a “blunder.”
Adding to this, California has been one of the slowest states to distribute the vaccine to the population. “Governor Newsom should leave office because he has mishandled the COVID pandemic, but we also have a significant number of jobs leaving the state, and the number of homeless people has grown much more during his tenure,” said Joe Collins, a former Republican congressional candidate.
From February through April, 3,300,000 small businesses nationwide disappeared, according to an analysis by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. In California, 30% of small businesses remained closed in November and at least 19,000 closed permanently, according to a report by the Little Hoover Commission, a state oversight agency.
The political fate of the Democratic governor, who now not only faces an uphill battle to win any election but is on the verge of what appears to be imminent impeachment, is not yet known.