On Sept. 14, California voters will hit the polls to decide whether they should recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) or let him finish out his term.
On Thursday, California's secretary of state certified that the campaign to recall Newsom received 1.7 million petition signatures. Under state law, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) had to schedule the election within 60 to 80 days after the signatures were certified. It was estimated by the California Department of Finance that this special election will cost $276 million.
This was the sixth recall effort launched since Newsom took office in January 2019, but the first to gain enough signatures to trigger an election. Organizers were given five extra months to gather and submit 1.4 million petition signatures, with a judge saying they needed this time because of COVID-19, the Los Angeles Times reports. This latest effort was spearheaded by conservatives who disagree with Newsom's progressive policies and his decision to lock down California to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Newsom has blasted the recall organizers as being disgruntled supporters of former President Donald Trump, QAnon adherents, and fringe members of the far-right, the Times reports. Recent opinion polls show that with the economy surging and the statewide restrictions lifted, Newsom has favorable job approval ratings. To fight the recall, Newsom is allowed to fundraise and spend with no limit, and his anti-recall committee has already raised more than $16.7 million.
Voters will decide if Newsom should be recalled, and if so, who should replace him; he is not allowed to appear on the ballot as a candidate. His opponents have until 59 days before the election to file their formal paperwork, and already several Republicans have said they will run against Newsom, including reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner and businessman John Cox. Cox lost the gubernatorial race to Newsom in 2018 — the same year Newsom won by the largest electoral margin in modern state history.
California has only recalled one governor: Democrat Gray Davis, who was removed from office in 2003 amid statewide budget cuts and rolling blackouts. Action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Davis — the last Republican to serve as California's governor.