Polls Close Tuesday in Recall Election of California Governor Gavin Newsom
Should California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) be recalled?
by Causes | 9.13.21
What’s the story?
- Polls will close in California’s recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday, September 14th, at 8 p.m. Pacific. If California voters choose to recall Newsom, he will be replaced by the candidate who receives the most votes on Tuesday.
- The election date was set by the secretary of state’s office in July after it was certified in April that recall organizers gathered 1,616,042 valid signatures to recall Newsom and thereby surpassed the required threshold of 1,495,709.
- It’s possible that the outcome of the recall will be known Tuesday night as ballots are counted, although California accepts mail-in ballots that are postmarked on or before election day that are received by county elections offices no later than seven days after Election Day, so it may take a few weeks for all votes to be counted. California counties are required to certify their results within 30 days of the election.
What role do voters play in the 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.
What prompted the recall?
- Newsom has faced criticism over his handling of California’s pandemic response. The lockdowns he ordered have caused the state to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country throughout the pandemic to date, and California’s K-12 public schools have one of the lowest percentages of students who have returned to in-person learning among any of the 50 states. He also sought to impose COVID-related restrictions on church services that were reversed by the Supreme Court.
- Newsom also sparked accusations of hypocrisy in the fall of 2020 after 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. He apologized the next day, but in the weeks following the incident the state imposed more restrictions on in-person dining amid a rise in coronavirus cases. Those restrictions largely remained in effect until they ended on June 15, 2021, but some restrictions have since been reimposed more recently amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
Who are the challengers?
- Conservative commentator Larry Elder (R) is leading the field of challengers according to recent polling. Elder, age 69, has been a talk radio host in California since 1993 and is making his first run for public office. He would be the first black governor of California if elected and was recently attacked by a woman wearing a gorilla mask who threw an egg at the back of his head and missed before she assaulted members of his security team.
- Elder is one of 46 candidates running to replace Newsom. Several of the other notable candidates include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), entrepreneur and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), and former Olympian and TV personality Caitlyn Jenner (R).
How common are gubernatorial recall elections?
- Newsom's recall election is 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: Newsom: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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