There is still time for many things to change: if the impeachment effort organizers reach the signing threshold, the vote to impeach Mr. Newsom and elect his successor, both would take place on a single ballot, probably not until near the end of the year.
That recall effort is being led by Orrin Heatlie, a conservative and former Yolo County Sheriff’s Department sergeant, who as recently as last year shared anti-vaccination and anti-LGBTQ views online. But the effort is backed by several wealthy political action committees, most of them on the right.
Randy Economy, a political consultant and radio host, is serving as a senior advisor to Recall Gavin Newsom, the group organizing the effort. He said that the behavior and conduct of the governor had made the withdrawal necessary. “It’s because of Gavin Newsom himself and the way he’s behaved every day since he became governor,” Economy said in an interview. “It’s more about her image and her self-aggrandizement, rather than solving problems.”
Newsom’s approval rating is not as low as that of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003, when voters ousted him in a recall. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran as a moderate Republican, was the beneficiary of that effort, won the recall election, and served as governor for more than seven years.
California politics is different, and decidedly more Democratic, than it was 18 years ago. Democrats now have a 2-to-1 advantage in terms of voter registration statewide. Just because there is a Republican-led effort does not mean that a Republican will ultimately benefit. Economy, who volunteered in 2016 for Trump’s presidential campaign but has also worked for Democrats in the past, insisted his team’s goal was nonpartisan in nature.
“Our job is not to elect the next governor; our job is to make sure this governor is recalled and removed from office, “he said.
The state is light on prominent (and much less popular) Republican politicians, and some ambitious Democrats already seem ready to run through the open door. All of which points to a possible irony: Even if it were to become just the second successful retirement effort in California history, the push, led by conservative interests, could finally lift another Democrat, possibly one to Newsom’s left.