Governor Newsom Faces Recall

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(Photo: “Gavin Newsom” by Gage Skidmore)

Safa Hameed

On May 5, the Lt. Governor of California confirmed that the Recall Governor Gavin Newsom Movement had earned petition signatures to warrant a recall election in the latter half of the year.

A recall is a special type of democratic procedure that allows citizens to remove politicians from office if they are dissatisfied with their work for the public. However, only 19 states allow citizens to recall their governor and California is one of them.

In California, the process starts by getting a certain amount of signatures that are equal to 12% of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election in a certain period of time–in this case it would be 1,495,709. The movement gathered even more signatures amassing to about 1.7 million, which have recently been verified by the Lt Gov. of California. This means that a special election will happen this year where California voters will vote on two things: if Governor Newsom should be replaced or not, and if so who should replace him. If less than 50% say yes to replacing him, then Gov. Newsom gets to keep his seat. If more than 50% say yes to replacing him, then the candidate with the most votes on the second question will get to govern for the rest of Newsom’s elected term.

This movement to recall Newsom actually started on February 21, 2020, before the pandemic took off and sheltering in place began. The movement centered around people who were angry at Newsom over policies that they felt protected illegal immigration, did nothing to alleviate homelessness, and high taxes (including the water tax). 

Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic began the movement gained traction as more people began to be frustrated by lockdown procedures. The movement then garnered the attention of people who opposed strict lockdown procedures as they thought it was detrimental in putting kids out of schools and shutting down businesses. This was furthered when Gov. Newsom was caught breaking his own COVID-19 social distancing rules to attend a dinner party at the famous French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley.

The movement is spearheaded by and funded by many Republicans, and Gov. Newsom and his campaign have used this as an attacking point, claiming in an interview with CNN, “It is what it is. This is a Republican recall…An RNC-backed Republican recall of White supremacists, anti-Semites, and people who are opposed to immigration and immigrants is an accurate assessment of who’s behind this recall.”

Orrin Heatlie, a movement leader, has claimed otherwise stating, “The People of California have done what the politicians thought would be impossible.” The recall campaign has tried to distance itself from the image of partisanship and has focused on it being made by citizens from all across the political spectrum in California. 

In the time being, there has already been an extensive list of people looking to run against Gov. Newsom in the special election, including Republican businessman John Cox and reality TV star and Olympian Caitlyn Jenner. On Ballotpedia, there are 24 more candidates listed and it looks like there will only be more as the 2003 California recall election of Gov. Davis saw more than 100.

Despite the numerous efforts and headway that has been made, Governor Newsom still has a very strong chance of staying in office. According to a survey done by the Public Policy Institute of California in March, 56% of Californians approve of his handling of things while only 42% disapprove.