Newsom reminder: the election date is set for September 14

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In summary

After months of uncertainty, the second recall election in California history will be held on September 14, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said.

California voters will decide on September 14 whether to sack Gov. Gavin Newsom, making him the second governor in state history – and only the fourth nationally – to face a recall.

Today’s announcement by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis comes after weeks of procedural wrangling between Democratic lawmakers and state officials to speed up the process of choosing a recall election date. Their apparent calculation is that the Democratic governor has a better chance of defeating the GOP-backed recall if an election is held as soon as possible.

“I think we have chosen a fair and reasonable date for the holding of this election,” Kounalakis said in a statement. “It has always been my intention to choose an election date that gives election officials and the public sufficient time to ensure that the elections run smoothly with wide turnout. “

Newsom’s public approval has increased as the state recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, and it has already amassed a big war chest to fight the recall. Holding the election on September 14 protects the governor from the influence of special interests and fellow Democrats for much of the critical bill signing period that ends on October 10.

Delaying a vote until later in the fall would give opponents more time to mobilize – and raises the possibility that voters could degrade on Newsom if conditions in the state worsen due to the pandemic , the season of forest fires or other unforeseen calamities.

2021 NEWSOM REMINDER GUIDE

Stories, Features and Updates on the California Recall Election

Although the recall effort – led by conservative activists critical of Newsom’s opposition to California’s death penalty and high taxes, widespread homelessness and pro-immigrant policies – began before the pandemic did not strike, it gained support when the virus rose and Newsom imposed strict closures there. He was widely criticized as a hypocrite when reports surfaced in November that a Maskless Newsom attended a lobbyist friend’s birthday party at the upscale French Laundry restaurant, even as he told Californians to go. hide and avoid socializing.

Only about 55,000 voters had signed recall petitions at dinner time. A judge has given promoters more time to collect signatures due to the pandemic. And by the April deadline, some 1.7 million voters signed the recall petition, more than enough to trigger the recall.

But state law governing recall elections provides for a long process between collecting signatures and holding a vote. To speed things up, the Democratic-controlled legislature on Monday passed a bill allowing lawmakers to skip a 30-day financial review of election costs if they have already set money aside in the budget for pay a reminder – and Newsom signed it into law within hours. The new state budget they adopted includes $ 250 million to be paid to organize the elections.

“Politicians play partisan games. It’s about retaining power, ”said GOP businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018 and challenges him again, during an early campaign stoppage in Sacramento.

“I think people will see what happens. And it will backfire on you.

Republican recall candidate John Cox talks about his plan to tackle homelessness in Sacramento on July 1, 2021. Photo by Manuela Tobias, CalMatters

Newsom immediately vowed to defeat the recall and continued the theme he had hammered for months – that the recall is a takeover led by ‘Trump Republicans’ who refuse to accept the result when they lose the election .

“On September 14, Californians will have the chance to defend our state and reject this Republican takeover once and for all,” Newsom’s campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said in a statement.

The Republican Party in California has shrunk considerably since 2003, when voters removed Democratic Governor Gray Davis in a GOP-backed recall and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Voters have not elected a Republican to a statewide post since Schwarzenegger’s re-election in 2006. And Republicans hold so few seats in the Legislature – about a quarter – that they do not. do not have the power to influence political or budgetary decisions.

But a recall creates an opportunity for Republicans because the rules are different from a regular election.

A reminder bulletin contains two questions. First: should we recall Gavin Newsom? And second: if he is recalled, who should replace him? If more than 50% of the voters answer “yes” to the first question, the person who obtains the most votes on the second question wins, even if they do not have a majority. This is because there is no limit to the number of people who can participate in the recall.

Already 55 people have filed a declaration of intent to run, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former US Representative to the Sacramento area Doug Ose and reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner – all republicans. Conservative talk show host Larry Elder is also considering a run, Politico reported.

Faulconer tried to woo voters from all political walks of life by highlighting his work with a Democratic city council as mayor of San Diego. “This movement is fueled by Californians from all communities – Democrats, Republicans and Independents. I am ready to lead this recall and start the California Comeback to clean our streets, cut taxes for the middle class and reopen our schools, ”he said in a statement.

Candidates have until July 16 to finalize their decision to stand for recall. In 2003, 135 people ran to replace Davis. But now there is a new requirement that could narrow the field: Applicants must submit five years of tax returns.

“It will be like climbing a mountain. And of course, once we get to the top and win a successful election, the view will be good. ”

Donna Johnston, President of the National Association of Election Officials

Voters will receive a ballot in the mail in August. Anyone will be able to mail their ballot, but the options for returning it in person will vary by county. Local election officials had sounded the alarm over the quick timetable, saying they could not withdraw it until September 14. Even then, some still worry about having a hard time getting the special paper and envelopes required and finding locations for voters to vote.

“It’s a good thing that we have at least a date now so that we can at least focus on these items,” said Donna Johnston, Sutter County Registrar of Electors and President of the Association of Election Officials. statewide.

“It will be like climbing a mountain. And of course, once we get to the top and win a successful election, the view will be good. ”

Unsurprisingly, Republicans are very enthusiastic about the recall, with a recent poll showing 75% are very interested in it. But only 36% of Democrats have said the same, meaning Newsom’s challenge over the next two and a half months will be to motivate them to vote.

CalMatters reporters Sameea Kamal and Manuela Tobias contributed to this report.


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