A Republican-led effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, state officials announced Monday.
Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) said more than 1,495,709 verified voter signatures have been submitted, enough to trigger a special recall election, the Los Angeles Times reports. Voters who signed petitions have a window of time to withdraw their signatures, and then state officials will determine the cost of an election, which may take three months; experts have said the recall election could cost up to $400 million. Once that's finished, Weber can certify the recall and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) will call an election within 60 to 80 days.
If the courts don't block the election, voters will decide whether Newsom should be recalled, and if he is removed, who should replace him. Already, several Republicans have said they will run against him, including former Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Caitlyn Jenner and adult film star Mary Carey.
Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor and lieutenant governor, was elected governor in 2018 by the largest margin in modern history, the Times reports. The most recent polls show that 40 percent of California voters support recalling Newsom, 56 percent are against it, and 4 percent are undecided.
This is the sixth recall effort against Newsom, a target of ire by Republicans who don't like his progressive agenda or stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of coronavirus. In November, he was criticized for attending a birthday dinner at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley at the same time he asked people to stay home; he later apologized.
Newsom's team believes he will stay in office. Longtime adviser Juan Rodriguez told the Times the "Republican recall — backed by partisan, pro-Trump, and far-right — threatens our values as Californians and seeks to undo the important progress we've made under Gov. Newsom: Fighting COVID, supporting families who are struggling, protecting our environment, [and] common-sense gun safety laws."
One of the organizers trying to get rid of Newsom, GOP political consultant Dave Gililiard, told the Times he is "very confident" voters want to "change direction in California and remove Gavin Newsom and go with someone else." In 2003, the only other time California has had a gubernatorial recall election, Gov. Gray Davis (D) was ousted from office and replaced by Republican action star Arnold Schwarzenegger.