Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, April 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Newsom Recall Clears Another Key Hurdle, Election Date Still Unknown

Just 43 people had a change of heart and removed their signatures from the recall petition, cementing the recall of the Democratic governor.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) --- A special election to determine the political fate of California Governor Gavin Newsom will proceed after elections officials said Wednesday a decidedly paltry number of voters have withdrawn their signatures from the recall petition.  

Surviving a 30-business day period in which signatories were given the opportunity to change their mind and potentially undo the recall, the proponents seeking to replace the democratic governor will get their shot in the coming months. According to Secretary of State Shirley Weber, just 43 signatories had a change of heart during the mandated removal period, well short of the nearly 225,000 necessary to stall a statewide election.

As expected, California voters will soon be tasked with two questions: “Should Newsom be removed from office?” and “If yes, who should take his place?”

Wednesday’s announcement is the last significant hurdle in the recall proponents’ path as up next the Department of Finance will set a price tag and then Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis must choose an election date. Meanwhile, interested candidates are also lining up to join GOP candidates like former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner in challenging the first-term governor.

Initially it was presumed the election would be set for November, but in recent weeks California Democrats have indicated it could be pushed up earlier. The majority party is looking to set the election as early possible as coronavirus restrictions have largely been lifted and Newsom continues to enjoy relatively strong polling numbers.

To speed up the process, leading lawmakers last month said they will push for nearly $200 million in the next state budget to cover the costs associated with the to-be-determined recall date.

“Our local communities don’t deserve to be saddled with unnecessary recall costs as they work to recover from the pandemic,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon,  D-Lakewood, expressing support for an election date as early as August or September.

Recall attempts are far from uncommon, but successful ones at the state level are incredibly rare.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, just three governors have ever faced a recall election. Former Wisconsin Scott Walker staved off a recall most recently in 2012 while California voters swapped Democratic Governor Gray Davis for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.

State Republicans are looking to take advantage of Newsom’s poor decision making during the pandemic, including a highly publicized dinner at a swanky Napa Valley restaurant in 2020 the helped spur the recall effort. Critics say the flub showed just how out of touch Newsom is with Californians who struggled mightily during the pandemic.

While the grassroots effort has been successful in reaching the ballot, sending Newsom packing remains an uphill battle in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a nearly 2-1 margin. In addition, Newsom continues to rack up millions in campaign donations and a recent statewide poll found just 40% would vote yes in the recall.  

Follow Nick Cahill on Twitter

Follow @@NickCahill_5
Categories / Government, Politics

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.