Proponents of a recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, state election officials announced Monday, marking the second time in state history a recall effort triggered an election of this kind.
State officials said Monday more than 1.6 million valid signatures were collected in support of the recall, surpassing the 1,495,709 valid signatures needed to qualify for an election. A total of 2,162,774 signatures were collected in the effort, but 1,626,042 were considered valid, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.
Election officials are still unsure of when the recall election will take place, but when it appears on the ballot, California voters will decide if Gov. Newsom should be recalled and who should replace him.
Even before the recall effort confirmed enough verified support, a number of Republicans stepped forward to declare candidacy, including Caitlyn Jenner and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Businessman John Cox, who lost to Gov. Newsom in the 2018 governor election, and former Congressman Doug Ose are also running.
No Democratic candidates have announced a campaign yet, but Gov. Newsom and his advisors have expressed confidence that he will defeat any attempt to remove him from office.
“This Republican recall threatens our values and seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made — from fighting COVID-19, to helping struggling families, protecting our environment and passing common sense gun violence solutions,” Gov. Newsom tweeted Monday. “There’s too much at stake.”
According to a recent study from the Public Policy Institute of California, about 40% of Californians support the recall effort against Gov. Newsom. While 40% of the vote would not be enough to oust Gov. Newsom from his position, the recall delivers a blow to the prominent Democrat leader, who has received backlash in the past year from Republicans unhappy with his COVID-19 measures.
Bobbi McGinnis, the Republican chairwoman for Santa Barbara County, called Gov. Newsom’s COVID-19 restrictions “over the top.” She reflected on the governor’s appearance at a lobbyist’s birthday party at the French Laundry restaurant back in November at a time when the state was urging Californians to stay home and avoid social gatherings. Ms. McGinnis, among many others, point to this instance as a last straw for many residents across the state.
“All these draconian methods that he used to shut everything down just felt very heavy handed, and it’s really hurt a number of businesses, particularly restaurants, hotels and the travel industry,” Ms. McGinnis told the News-Press.
Initially, Ms. McGinnis said she was skeptical that a recall effort could succeed, since she had witnessed many efforts in the past lack the support needed to qualify for the ballot. Yet, now that the effort is passed, Ms. McGinnis said she expects this to be a “successful effort” against the sitting governor.
“I just think people are looking for sensible governance, not just heavy handedness,” she said.
Local Democrats who have watched the recall effort closely have been preparing for this effort and appear unphased by the upcoming vote.
Darcel Elliot, the chair of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County, said she was “not surprised” by the recall receiving enough support. She said local chapters of the state’s Democratic Party plan to encourage registered voters to vote “no” to the recall on the ballot.
“The Democratic Party has a strong electoral system throughout the state, and so I think we’re prepared,” Ms. Elliot told the News-Press. “Anything can happen, and we’re definitely not resting on this. We’re going to be fighting back aggressively.”
According to state guidelines, Californians have 30 business days to ask local officials to remove their names from the petition. That amount of time equates to June 8, and by that point, Ms. Elliot estimates that the vaccine progress and business reopenings will spur many people to reconsider their support for the recall.
“I do feel like a lot of the reasons that people have been frustrated with Newsom or may have signed the petition have started to wane now that vaccination has increased and reopening has happened at a high level,” Ms. Elliot said. “And the fact that he’s up for election literally in June of next year, I think voters are going to want their opportunity to vote in June next year for a governor instead of voting yes or no on this governor election nine or ten months before the (next) election takes place.”
If the recall effort prevails and Gov. Newsom is voted out, it would mark the second time in state history that a governor was ousted by an election. The only other time a recall vote succeeded was in 2003 when former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was removed from office and replaced by Hollywood star and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Should Gov. Newsom be voted out, Ms. McGinnis is hopeful a Republican candidate could become the state’s new governor, believing a Republican would “have the best answers to get the economy back to moving and open.”
As the campaigns currently stand, Ms. McGinnis said she believed Mr. Faulconer would be best suited to take on the position, but that Ms. Jenner should not be discounted from the race.
“I think it’s wonderful that (Ms. Jenner) is in the race, and if she can prove herself to be a competent governor we need to give her a chance,” Ms. McGinnis said. “We need to hear these (candidates) out and see who would be the best at reviving California.”
If Gov. Newsom is not overturned by recall the vote, he will appear on the ballot again in 2022 during the next governor election.