The California Secretary of State confirmed that a gubernatorial recall effort had acquired enough signatures to qualify for the ballot later this year, as reported by Fox News.
Secretary Shirley Weber made the announcement on Monday, stating that the recall effort had ultimately collected approximately 1.6 million verified signatures. The minimum threshold for the effort to qualify was 1,495,709 signatures. The campaign claimed that it had reached 2.1 million signatures, thus revealing that the Secretary of State’s office had scrubbed nearly half a million signatures before determining that the rest were legitimate.
The next step in the process, according to the Secretary of State’s website, is “a 30-day business period in which voters may submit written requests to county Registrars of Voters to remove their names from the recall petition” if they feel so inclined. Subsequently, if there are still enough signatures after those 30 days, then another 30 days will be devoted to the Department of Finance’s review to determine the costs of the recall election. After that period, there will be another 30 days for a budget committee to review and confirm the Department of Finance’s estimates. After those 90 days are complete, the Lieutenant Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis (D-Calif.), will officially set the date for the election.
In the recall election, voters will be faced with a ballot containing just two questions. The first question will be whether or not incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) should be recalled, with a simple “yes” or “no.” Following that question, there will be a list of candidates running to replace Newsom in the event that a majority of voters vote “yes.” Whichever candidate wins a plurality of votes in that election will immediately be elected governor.
The recall campaign was sparked by Newsom’s widespread lockdown mandates during the coronavirus pandemic, which has severely damaged many small businesses in the state. His approval ratings took a major hit when, in the midst of the lockdowns last November, he was spotted having a dinner party with lobbyists at an elite restaurant in the Bay Area, indoors and with no masks on, in a group larger than 10, in violation of his own orders.
The Republican field to replace Newsom already has several major candidates and continues to grow. Among the most prominent candidates are former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessman John Cox, who was the gubernatorial nominee in 2018. Also in the running is former Congressman Doug Ose, who briefly ran in 2018 before dropping out before the primary. But arguably the biggest name is former Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner before he became “transgender,” who announced his bid last week as a Republican.
Additionally, Richard “Ric” Grenell, who served as Ambassador to Germany and then Acting Director of National Intelligence under the Trump Administration, is also allegedly considering a run. Grenell is widely viewed as the most pro-Trump Republican who may run for the seat, which would position him well with California Republican voters.
Only the second gubernatorial recall in California’s history, and the fourth gubernatorial recall in American history overall, the campaign is already being compared to the previous recall election in the state back in 2003. In that year, Governor Gray Davis (D-Calif.) was successfully recalled and replaced by bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran as a Republican. Several celebrity candidates who ran, mostly unseriously, in 2003 are back for the 2021 campaign, including former adult film star Mary Carey and singer Ronia Goldberg, better known by her stage name Angelyne.
However, despite the grassroots support for the recall by Republican voters in the state, the campaign to successfully remove Newsom remains an uphill battle. California is by far the most populous state in the nation, and is overwhelmingly Democratic. In the previous gubernatorial election in 2018, Newsom won with 62 percent of the vote over Cox’s 38 percent, at 7.7 million votes overall, in the largest gubernatorial landslide since 1950. In the 2020 presidential election last November, Joe Biden won over 11 million votes in the state against President Donald Trump’s 6 million, which marked the largest popular vote total in a single state, for any candidate in any race, in American history.