Californians Gather Signatures to Recall Gov. Gavin Newsom - Should He Be Recalled?
Should California recall Governor Gavin Newsom (D)?
by Causes | 2.11.21
What’s the story?
- Supporters of an effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) announced Wednesday that they have gathered more than 1.6 million signatures, putting them on pace to have enough valid signatures to force a recall election later this year.
- Newsom has faced criticism over his handling of California’s pandemic response. He made headlines for participating in a birthday dinner for a lobbyist at an exclusive restaurant that charges a minimum of $350 per person less than two hours after he urged Californians to cancel their Thanksgiving gatherings.
- After photos of the birthday bash surfaced, Newsom apologized and said he “should have modeled better behavior” and insisted his dinner was held in accordance with state and local guidelines. In the weeks following the incident, the state imposed more restrictions on in-person dining amid a rise in coronavirus cases.
- The fall of 2020 saw a significant decline in Newsom’s political support in California, as a Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found his approval rating declined from 64% in September 2020 to 46% in late January 2021, while his disapproval number climbed from 36% to 48% in the same period. In an effort to shore up Newsom’s base, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday indicated that President Joe Biden opposes the effort to recall the embattled governor.
When would the recall occur?
- Under California law, groups seeking to recall a state executive official have to gather valid signatures equal to 12% of the votes cast in the most recent election for that office. In the case of the governorship, that number is 1,495,709.
- While the groups seeking to recall Newsom have surpassed that number, they have said they will continue to gather more signatures through the March 17, 2021, deadline until they have more than 2 million total because some will be invalidated.
- Once the signature-gathering period closes, there is a 30 day withdrawal window, followed by a 10 day verification period, which is then followed by a 30 day period for the budget committee to estimate the cost of the election.
- After all that, the secretary of state certifies the recall petition and the lieutenant governor sets the recall election date between 60 and 80 days after final signature certification unless there is a regularly scheduled election in the next 180 days.
- That means a Newsom recall election would likely occur in either October or November, depending on whether there are any delays in the process.
What role do voters play in a recall election?
- When voters cast their ballot in a California recall election they’re asked to weigh in on two questions: whether the politician should be recalled from office, and who should succeed them if they’re recalled.
- A majority vote is required for the recall question to succeed.
- If the politician is recalled, the candidate with the most votes is elected to replace them, regardless of whether they received a majority of the vote.
How common are gubernatorial recall elections?
- If the effort by Californians to recall Newsom succeeds in getting the issue on the ballot, it would be only the fifth gubernatorial recall election to occur in the last 100 years throughout the country.
- The other four gubernatorial recalls occurred in North Dakota (1921), Arizona (1988), California (2003), and Wisconsin (2012). Only two resulted in the governor’s removal, as Lynn Frazier of North Dakota and Gray Davis of California were recalled, while the Arizona recall election was canceled due to the governor’s impeachment.
- Despite the rarity of successful recalls and the challenges in forcing a recall election, every California governor since 1960 has faced a recall effort.
- In the successful 2003 recall of California Gov. Gray Davis (D), more than 100 candidates ran to replace him, which led to him being replaced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who won 48.58% of the vote.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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