Everything You Need to Know About California’s Gubernatorial Recall Election

Tuesday, September 14, is a big day for Californians. It’s recall day, where California voters choose whether or not to recall Governor Gavin Newsome. Newsome was elected governor in 2018 but now faces recall due to his policies and mishandling of the pandemic. In June 2020, the recall effort was launched by citizens who were frustrated with the heavy restrictions on public schools, places of worship, and businesses. In April, the recall effort had already passed 1.5 million signatures necessary to get on the ballot.

In November 2020, Newsome was photographed at a dinner party at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant. He attended this luxurious dinner with 12 people, none of whom were photographed wearing masks. He was widely mocked for his “rules for thee, not for me” actions. Just the prior month, Newsome tweeted, “Going out to eat with members of your household this weekend?” Newsom’s office tweeted. “Don’t forget to keep your mask on in between bites. Do your part to keep those around you healthy.”

In July, the Lieutenant Governor of California announced the recall to take place on September 14. Ballots were mailed to the 22 million registered voters in California. According to Fox News, “[Ballots] must be postmarked by the end of Tuesday – or deposited into drop boxes or handed in in-person at the polls by 8 p.m. PT.

The recall works by asking voters two questions. The first question asks if the governor should be removed from office. The second question provides a list of candidates to replace the governor. If more than 50% of voters choose to remove Newsome, the candidate who gets the most votes on the second question will succeed Newsome. As of September 13, FiveThirtyEight reported that 57.3% of respondents would vote to keep Newsome, while 41.5% want him removed. Voters can answer the second question even if they vote “keep” for the first question. There is no runoff, meaning a candidate can win with minority support. All the candidate needs are a plurality of votes.

There are 46 candidates on the ballot, including one Democrat challenger. Larry Elder, a conservative talk show radio host, jumped into the race on July 12. Polling shows Larry Elder as the top candidate, leading by 29.7%. The Democrat real estate broker, Kevin Paffrath, is polling in 2nd place at 6.1%. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer follows him at 5.1%.

This is the 6th recall attempt since Newsome took office in 2018. The estimated cost for the recall is $276 million. Elder has said, “The 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans…And my fear is they’re going to try that in this election right here and recall.” He has a team of lawyers that “Will file lawsuits in a timely fashion if problems arise.”

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