Here's What You Should Know About The California Recall Election That Could Take Off Governor Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom's job is at stake much sooner than he had hoped.
The California Democrat faces a special election on September 14th that could make him only the third governor in US history to be removed by dismissal.
The Democrats have long had a firm grip on California's national political leadership. But while Republican voters are almost 2-1 in the majority in the state, the recall efforts have not only qualified for the vote, but become a legitimate threat to Newsom – thanks in no small part to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here's what you should know about voting for America's largest state by population and GDP:
How will the election go?
All registered California voters are eligible to vote in next week's special election. Postal ballot papers were sent to all active registered voters.
The ballot papers consist of two parts. The first simply asks if Newsom should be deposed as governor. If more than 50% vote yes, Newsom's path is over.
The second part of the ballot asks which candidate should succeed Newsom. If the governor is removed, the replacement candidate with the most votes will be elected for the remainder of Newsom's term, which ends January 2, 2023.
Voters can only fill in part of the ballot if they want to. They can also choose a replacement candidate even if they vote against Newsom's removal.
How did we get here?
Supporters of California Governor Gavin Newsom's recall campaign prepare for a rally and briefing in Carlsbad, Calif., Jan.
Mike Blake | Reuters
Newsom opponents collected the nearly 1.5 million signatures required to trigger the recall election. This threshold was equivalent to 12% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in 2018.
The petition was approved in June 2020, and its supporters were originally given a deadline of November 17 last year to collect signatures. However, due to the impact of the pandemic on their efforts, they were given a four-month extension.
That extra time proved crucial. Signatures poured in at the end of 2020 after photos of Newsom's maskless meal with lobbyists at the lauded and extravagantly expensive restaurant The French Laundry emerged.
At the time, Newsom and the state government advised Californians to mask themselves and follow the rules of social distancing as Covid cases began to rise.
Newsom apologized for attending dinner, saying he made "a terrible mistake" and admitted that "the spirit of what I preach all along has been contradicted."
But the backlash re-focused the recall election on Covid – although the pandemic was not mentioned in the original petition.
Rather, it points to homelessness, high taxes, and other issues that Conservatives have long counted among their main criticisms of California. The petition, filed in February 2020 by Orrin Heatlie, a retired sheriff sergeant, marked the sixth attempt to recall the 2019 inaugurated Newsom.
But the recall campaign website now puts the French laundry incident at the top of its list of reasons for removing Newsom.
Who is running
Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder is campaigning against current California governor Gavin Newsom during the recall election for California governor in Los Angeles, California on September 2, 2021.
Mike Blake | Reuters
There are 46 challengers lining up to oust Newsom. Like the 2003 dismissal that made Arnold Schwarzenegger governor of the state, this year's election has shown a multitude of personalities.
Of the 24 Republican candidates on the ballot, talk radio host Larry Elder emerged as the clear leader in this group.
Elder, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, has reportedly raised more than $ 13 million, dwarfing most of his recall rivals, while still lagging far behind the tens of millions raised by opponents of deposition Newsom were collected.
Other Republican candidates include John Cox, who traveled to campaign rallies with a live Kodiak bear in tow, and Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic athlete and reality TV personality.
The nine Democrats include Hollywood actor Patrick Kilpatrick and YouTube millionaire Kevin Paffrath, as well as a college student, free speech attorney and "cannabis policy advisor" who is calling on Californians to vote against Newsom's dismissal.
Two members of the Greens, one member of the Libertarian Party and 10 non-party candidates are also on the ballot.
Who is likely to win?
Newsom appears to be holding onto its seat just a few days before the election.
For most of the last month, polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight showed voters preferred to keep Newsom as governor, but only by a small margin.
Recent polls show that the preference to keep Newsom outweighs the option to remove it by more than 10 points, according to the FiveThirtyEight survey average.
Meanwhile, betting markets are showing that recall efforts have lost a lot of momentum over the past month. Newsom's chances of staying in power are at their highest since early July.
How unusual is it all?
Attempts to remove elected officials are not uncommon in California – in fact, there have been 179 of them since 1913.
But a small fraction of these petitions received enough signatures to trigger a vote, and in only six cases was the officer actually removed.
Only one governor, the unpopular Democrat Gray Davis, has ever been recalled in California. In the 2003 special election, 135 candidates fought for Davis & # 39; Job including a comedian, a porn star, and others who had never run for office before.
Davis was eventually replaced by Republican Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder champion and action movie megastar who enjoyed universal notoriety.
How will the recall affect the US?
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to promote Newsom in California this week.
Losing Newsom in the recall could have dire consequences for Democrats across the country – beyond the embarrassment and discouragement of losing control of a deep blue state a year before the midterm elections.
Control of the US Senate could be at stake at some point.
The Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, 88, has held her seat since 1992. As the oldest incumbent senator in the United States, her health is under increasing scrutiny. However, in March she claimed that she still intends to serve the remainder of her current term, which ends in early 2025.
If Feinstein leaves office prematurely, the governor appoints her successor. If Newsom is replaced by a Republican, that governor could appoint a Republican to fill the vacant Senate seat.
That could turn the wafer-thin democratic majority in the Senate on its head, in which the two parties are split 50:50 and the Vice President exercises the tied vote. Without this small advantage, the Democrats' hopes of getting key parts of Biden's already ambitious agenda off would likely be out of reach.
Republicans have been eager to get the GOP's first US Senate seat from California since John Seymour in the early 1990s.
"They're scared that I'll replace them with a Republican, which I would certainly do, and that would be an earthquake in Washington, DC," Elder, the GOP leader, allegedly said on another conservative talk radio show.