The Recall of Gavin Newsom is On - Here's What Happens Next

Last week, supporters of a campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated the news that enough valid signatures had been gathered to force a special election later this year (most likely in November). According to Secretary of State Shirley Weber 1,626,042 signatures have been validated, far more than the required total of 1,495,709 signatures. The recall campaign needed at least 12% of the 12,464,235 votes that were cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

This isn't the first time California residents have been down this road. In 2003, Gov. Gray Davis, faced a recall election after residents became upset about an electricity crisis as well as an unpopular car tax. The recall was ultimately successful and Davis became the first California governor (and only the second governor in history), to be removed from office.

Why do people want to recall Gov. Newsom?

Organizers of the recall effort have focused on Newsom's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, criticizing his lockdown measures as too restrictive, saying he has “failed at his job and destroyed the lives and business of too many hardworking Californians,''  according to RecallGavin2020. In November 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, Newsom was also widely criticized for attending a dinner for a lobbyist at a Michelin 3-star restaurant, The French Laundry in Napa Valley. The dinner violated a number of Newsom's own coronavirus restrictions, including an excessive number of attendees at the party and the fact the dinner appeared to be held indoors.

Newsom later apologized for attending the dinner, saying he had 'made a bad mistake.' The dinner was widely panned and as a result the recall petition surged in popularity.

When will the recall election be held?

Right now, there is no official date for the election as that will depend on a number of factors. The most likely timeframe will be sometime between October and November later this year.

Who can run for Governor?

Anyone and everyone. People who remember the 2003 recall election will also remember the wide cast of characters who ran for the state's highest office. The top candidates at the time included Cruz Bustamante, the lieutenant governor running as a Democrat, Peter Camejo, the 2002 Green Party candidate for governor and Tom McClintock, State Senator, who ran as a Republican. They were joined by several other candidates who threw their hat in the ring, including author Arianna Huffington, actor Gary Coleman, publishing magnate Larry Flynt, and adult film actress, Mary Carey. Ultimately, it was Hollywood action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won the race, running as a Republican.

Who's running this time?

So far, several candidates have stepped up to say they're running. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox (who lost to Newsom in 2018), and former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, both Republicans, have also announced their candidacies. As in 2003, a number of non-political entities have signed up to run, including Caitlyn Jenner, Angelyne, Mary Carey (who finished 10th in 2003) and Dakota Vaughn. Actor Randy Quaid has also expressed interest in running, but he has not declared a formal candidacy as of April 29th.

What will the Ballot look like?

Voters will be asked two questions:

1) Do you wish to recall the sitting governor, Gavin Newsom?

2) Vote for the person you want elected Governor of California

If the first question achieves more than 50%, Gov. Newsom will be recalled, and the candidate with the most votes in the second question will be elected Governor. Voters can vote no to recall Newsom, and still vote for a candidate to replace him, if the recall ends up passing.

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