California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom will face a recall election on September 14th, according to an announcement made by the state’s lieutenant governor.
Lt. Gov Eleni Kounalakis chose the date just hours after the recall was formally certified, marking the end of the recall petition which collected 1.7 million signatures, well over the 1.5 million threshold. When handed the ballot on September 14th Californians will be asked two questions, firstly do they want to recall Gavin Newsom, and secondly if so, who should replace him? If more than 50% answer yes to the first question, then the candidate with the most votes in question two will become the next Governor of California.
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The effort to boot Newsom from the Governor’s mansion was started last year primarily by the state’s conservative Republicans. However, it quickly gained support following Newsom’s COVID-19 restrictions, especially after he was spotted dining with friends at The French Laundry, a Napa Valley eatery whilst urging Californians to stay at home.
With the recall election expected to cost state and county election officials around $276 million to administer, a whooping 57 candidates have declared their intention to run in the election. Among the most notable are businessman John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulkner, former House Rep Doug Ose and reality-tv star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner. On the Democratic side Newsom is being challenged by Kevin Paffrat, a real estate agent and social media personality and former House Rep Frank Wade.
However a poll carried out by the Public Policy Institute of California in May found that 57% of Californians would vote against the recall measure, with 40% saying they would vote to remove Newsom, indicating that Newsom is likely to retain the Governorship. Newsom’s political position has drastically improved since the start of the recall effort, with COVID-19 cases down and the state starting to emerge from lockdown, with the mask mandate being lifted in most settings two weeks ago.
This comfortable margin didn’t stop Newsom from signing a bill passed by the state legislature which would change the recall rules to allow for an earlier election by bypassing the legislative review of the costs that are associated with a recall election.
The law received harsh criticism from the California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Milan Patterson who said in a statement “Shout out to California Democrats for manipulating their own recall rules …. now Californians only have to wait until September 14 to recall the worst governor in California history, Gavin Newsom.” Newsom’s recall is the only the second in the state’s history to make it to the ballot, the first happened back in 2003 when Governor Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger.