During the last couple of months, California Republicans and associated political committees/ groups have organized a recall effort to relieve Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) from his job. This isn't the first time Newsom faces a recall threat. Since his inauguration there have been two Trumpian organizations who have tried to trigger a recall election for different reasons: guns, taxes, abortion etc... All of these efforts, at the contrary of the most recent one, have been unsuccessful so far, leaving the sitting Governor politically unharmed. This last recall effort is different.
The origin of this recall effort
Initially, this recall effort had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort was in fact started for a different reason. Orrin Heatlie, the proponent and current recall campaign leader, who's a retired sheriff's sergeant from Yolo Co., CA, is part of the group "California Patriot Coalition". As stated by them, this recall effort was particularly focused on Newsom's immigration policies, very distant from Trump's. But the pandemic changed it all.
Before the pandemic and through the first months of it, the recall effort was encountering a great number of obstacles, the organizers had in fact to present the petition twice due to technical errors and the number of signatures was incredibly low, as the previous two attempts. The recall effort was destined to fail until a court, due to the pandemic restrictions, granted an extension to the signature gathering. On November 6th, hours away from the extension decided by the judge, Governor Newsom participated to a birthday party at the French Laundry, a restaurant. Photos of the dinner were leaked, sparking criticism among Californians who were ordered to stay at home by the Governor. The recall signatures went from 55,000 to 500,000 by the end of the month.
Is this recall a one time-thing or has it happened other times in California's history? How is it triggered and how it works.
A recall petition in California must gather a number of signatures equal to 12% of the state's last governor election turnout, in this case 1,495,709 signatures were needed. The petition reached approximately 1.7 million signatures, which triggered the recall election.
Trying to recall the sitting Governor or other statewide elected officials is a pretty normal thing in the Bear State. Since 1911, when the recall was approved as state law, there have been 179 attempts. As the New York Times says, "every Governor since 1960" has faced at least one recall effort. Even though nearly 200 recalls have been attempted, only 2 (including this one) have reached the ballot. The first time was in 2003, when Democratic Governor Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A recall election ballot is made up of two questions. The first asks the voter whether they want to recall the Governor or not. The second one offers a list of candidates that, were Newsom to leave Sacramento, would replace him. If the recall question succeeds, the candidate with the most votes on the second question gets to replace him.
Who are the candidates?
Fifty-seven candidates have filed a statement of candidacy so far, most of which are Republicans as no true challenge has emerged from Newsom's own party. Democrats have also discouraged anyone from their party to challenge the sitting Governor. The most important ones are:
- Kevin Faulconer (R), former Mayor of San Diego, a moderate, classical-conservative Republican.
- John Cox (R), San Diego businessman.
- Doug Ose (R), former Congressman from the Sacramento area.
- Caitlyn Jenner (R), transgender woman, reality shows star and former Olympic athlete
The deadline to present the candidacy is July, 16 as the recall election will be held on September, 14.
What do polls say?
Not many polls on the recall election have been conducted so far but those who have been conducted show a pretty clear trend: the majority of Californians don't want to recall Newsom. The anger caused by the Governor's violation of his own anti-COVID-19 stay-at-home orders has faded out and the recall effort will only be voted by partisan opponents of Newsom, Republicans. Of course the situation could change but we're not seeing the Governor of California getting recalled unless there's some other scandal that could dramatically change the situation.