Newsom facing Republican-led recall election

Gov. Gavin Newsom at a Capitol event in January. (AP Photo, Rich Pedroncelli)

A GOP-orchestrated effort to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has gathered enough signatures to place the recall before voters on the statewide ballot.

The announcement Monday by the secretary of state means that Newsom is all but certain to face voters later this year.

It will mark the second time in less than 20 years that a Democratic  California governor has gone before the statewide electorate to decide whether he should be removed from office. The other was Gray Davis, who was recalled in 2003 on a number of issues, including the perception of his pay-to-play fund-raising and his handling of the state’s electricity crisis. Davis was replaced by Hollywood celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Gavin Newsom earned this recall, and we look forward to helping him into early retirement later this fall,” California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement distributed by her office.

Secretary of State Shirley Weber — who was appointed to her job by Newsom — said the anti-Newsom forces gathered 1,626,042 signatures, about 130,00 more than the 1,495,709 they needed. A more detailed counting may be released by the end of the week, but it appeared unlikely that it would change the outcome.

“This now triggers the next phase of the recall process, a 30-business-day period in which voters may submit written requests to county Registrars of Voters to remove their names from the recall petition,” Weber said in a written statement. “A recall election will be held unless a sufficient number of signatures are withdrawn.”

After the 30-day period, the Department of Finance, which writes Newsom’s budgets, will have a month to estimate the election price tag. After that, the legislative committee that orders the audits of state government operations will have another 30 days to review the costs, “before the lieutenant governor sets the date for the recall election.”

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis would then have 60 to 80 days to set the election.

The time line could be affected by legal challenges and other issues. Barring delays, the recall likely will be held in the late fall. Newsom, who was elected in 2018, faces his scheduled reelection in November next year.

If the recall goes forward, Newsom can be removed by a simple majority vote. The ballot entails a two-step act:  If Newsom is voted out, his successor would be chosen from whichever challenging candidate polls the highest, even if that candidate’s tally represents less than a majority of the vote.

Thus far, several Republicans are challenging Newsom. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is on  the list, along with reality TV celebrity Caitlyn Jenner and businessman John Cox, an earlier unsuccessful candidate for governor.

No Democrats have entered the race — yet.

In the Davis recall election, his challengers included then-Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who served under both Davis and Schwarzenegger and earlier was Assembly speaker.

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