California Gov. Gavin Newsom to face recall vote as petition drive hits signature goal

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — California’s secretary of state said Monday that organizers of a petition drive to force a recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom have gathered more than 1.6 million valid signatures — more than enough to qualify for the ballot.

The 1.6 million signatures are about 100,000 more than needed to force a vote on the first-term Democrat. The validation process won’t be complete until Thursday, the deadline for county elections officials to verify the validity of any remaining signatures and report the final signature verification.

People who signed petitions now have 30 days to withdraw their signatures, though it’s unlikely enough will do so to stop the question from going to voters.

In a recall election, voters would face two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him? The votes on the second question will only be counted if more than half say yes to the first.

If Newsom survives the recall he will be up for re-election in 2022.

In 2003, voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Newsom opponents, frustrated with the Democratic governor’s liberal policies and approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March turned over 2 million petition signatures to qualify the recall election against him.

On Friday, Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic athlete-turned-transgender activist and reality TV star, declared her intention to run to replace Newsom.

‘I’m in’:Caitlyn Jenner announces bid for California governor

Related:As signature collection ends, California heads toward recall of Gavin Newsom

Others who have declared their intention to run include John Cox, a Republican businessman who lost to Newsom in 2018 and is running again; former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; and ex-U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, who last held office in 2005.

Newsom, who was elected governor in 2018, previously served as lieutenant governor and mayor of San Francisco.

Newsom has been aggressively touring the state, touting its progress on vaccines. He has said he is taking the recall effort “very seriously” but has branded the drive as a “partisan political power grab” and the work of extremist conservatives and white supremacists like the Proud Boys.

“This election will be about two different visions for California,” said Stop the Republican Recall campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said Monday. “The Republican recall – backed by partisan, pro-Trump, and far-right forces – threatens our values as Californians and seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made under Governor Newsom — fighting COVID, supporting families who are struggling, protecting our environment, common-sense gun safety laws. There’s simply too much at stake – we will win.”

But Faulconer embraced Monday’s news, calling it a “historic opportunity to demand change.

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Related:Who’s running for California governor? Here’s who plans to be in the races

“Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are coming together to support this recall and get our state back on track,” he said in a statement. “As the only candidate who’s won tough elections and enacted real reform, I am ready to lead this movement. Together, we will turn the page on Gavin Newsom’s failures and begin a California Comeback to reopen our schools, cut taxes for working families, and create jobs for the people of our state.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Coachella, Calif., on Feb. 17, 2021.

An election could be held in October or November, depending on how long various steps in the process take.

Once the withdrawn signatures are removed, assuming enough valid signatures remain, the secretary of state then will notify the state Department of Finance, which consults with county elections officials to project the costs of the recall election.

The proposed budget is reviewed by Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which has up to 30 days to examine it.

After the committee’s 30-day review and comment period, the secretary of state will certify that the proponents have submitted enough valid signatures, and the lieutenant governor is then required to call a recall election to be held not less than 60 days nor more than 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures.

Contributing: Associated Press

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