The effort to remove California Governor Gavin Newsom is on the brink of a major victory.
There are nearly enough signatures in support of the effort for the measure to be put on the ballot, which would give voters the option to remove the governor from office and elect his replacement.
Although organizers say they are not partisan, Republicans are supporting the effort.
According to the California secretary of state’s office, this is the sixth official attempt to remove Newsom since he took office in 2019.
What is a recall and why are you targeting Newsom?
A recall is an action driven by voters who sign a petition in support of the removal of an elected official.
If organizers can get enough signatures, in this case just under 1.5 million, the measure goes to a state ballot. Voters would be presented with a two-part question: do you want Newsom removed, and if so, who would you like to replace him with? Newsom recently signed a bill that would mail all voters a ballot for the 2021 election.
Anyone can run to be a replacement candidate in a recall election, which often leads to a very crowded field.
Organizers in an effort to remember Newsom say the government’s overreach has led to dissatisfaction with his leadership. They cite its executive order to phase out gasoline cars by 2035 and continued power outages to prevent wildfires, among other problems. They also cite a number of issues related to their handling of the coronavirus.
The first attempt to impeach Newsom came two months after he took office and ran alongside impeachment attempts that targeted six other senior Democratic officials, including the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general.
Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be the catalyst for the latest recall effort. Randy Economy, a senior adviser to the effort, told ABC News that voters are trying to win back the government.
“People really want to take citizen government back into their own hands and they don’t want politicians to control every aspect of their lives, every minute of the day, even during a pandemic,” Economy said. “Let’s fix it by getting him out of the office.”
Californians previously successfully called Governor Gray Davis in 2003, leading to the election of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
How many signatures do you need?
Organizers met their final collection deadline on March 17. Its final count was just over 2.2 million signatures. Counties now have until April 29 to examine the signatures and verify them.
Since the last data update through March 11, the state had received 1,834,770 signatures and examined 1,454,710 of them. Of those, 1,188,073 were deemed valid, giving the organizers a success rate of 81.7%.
Recall expert Joshua Spivak told ABC News that he doesn’t think organizers will have much of a hard time getting to the polls.
“Six million people voted for Donald Trump (in California),” Spivak said. “So with a third of those 6 million signing this petition, forgetting about Democrats, forgetting about independents … there’s a good chance they’ll get on the ballot. That’s not a crazy barrier.”
Still, it can be difficult to get voters to cast their vote in favor of recall. Of the total of 22,154,304 registered voters in the state, 10,228,144 are Democrats, 5,347,377 are Republicans, and 680,573 are independents.
Who is behind the recall?
This is the second impeachment attempt led primarily by former County Sgt. Yolo Orrin Heatlie and California businessman Mike Netter.
Organizers say they have raised just under $ 1 million in donations. Although organizers claim the effort is nonpartisan, records show California Republican Party contributions totaling at least $ 100,000. The Republican National Committee has supported the effort financially, and the Republican Governors Association recently launched a political action committee to do the same.
As the signature verification rate rose, Democrats in California and across the country launched a defense, seeking to link organizers and supporters of the effort to the far-right wings of the Republican Party and the QAnon conspiracy. They argue that removing a sitting governor while trying to quell the coronavirus pandemic would be detrimental to the state.
Stop the Republican Recall, the campaign against the effort, is funded primarily by the California Democratic Party and has recruited national party figures, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Stacey Abrams, to help raise funds.
Newsom publicly addressed the threat of a recall on ABC’s “The View,” saying it appeared organizers had the necessary signatures to send the question on a ballot.
“Am I worried about that? Of course I’m worried,” Newsom said. “The nature of these things, the question up or down, the zero-sum nature of the question is challenging … so we’re taking it seriously.”
What comes next?
The state has until April 29 to verify the signatures submitted on the remaining petitions. The state then has 10 days to verify that the signatures meet the required threshold.
After that, those who signed a petition have 30 days to remove their names from the list. Experts predict that the question could be on a ballot in September or October.
Who could participate in the retreat?
Democrats are presenting a united front in opposition to the recall and are not announcing offers for the seat. But some have reportedly quietly expressed interest in running for a potential governor in the future.
Tom Steyer, one of the failed 2020 presidential candidates who spent millions on his own career, recently commissioned a survey on various topics, including retirement. His spokesperson told ABC News that he opposes the impeachment effort and has no intention of running if he appears on the ballot.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, has already launched himself into the race and is asking voters to choose him for a “California comeback.” Republican John Cox, who was the party’s nominee in the 2018 gubernatorial election, has also put his name in the ring, as has former Republican Rep. Doug Ose.