SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The organizers of the recall against California Governor Gavin Newsom have collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the vote.
The California Secretary of State announced Monday that more than 1.6 million signatures had been checked, about 100,000 more than needed to force a vote on the first-time Democrat.
People who have signed petitions now have 30 days to withdraw their signatures. However, this is unlikely to prevent the question from reaching voters.
An election is likely in the fall when voters would have two questions: should Newsom be called back and who should replace him? The votes on the second question are only counted if more than half agree to the first question.
If Newsom survives the recall, he will stand for re-election in 2022.
Some of the most prominent Republicans to replace Newsom include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who has never run for office. Businessman John Cox, who lost heavily to Newsom in 2018, and former Congressman Doug Ose are also running.
In 2003, voters recalled Democratic Governor Gray Davis and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is the only other callback by a California governor to qualify for the vote.
Newsom won the 2018 election with the support of more than 60% of voters. Remembering him will be a tough sell in the heavily Democratic state where only a quarter of the state’s registered voters are Republicans, about as many as those who identify as “no party preference”.
But organizers see an opening by encouraging voters who were angry with Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and who are frustrated with one-party rule in Sacramento. Republicans have not won nationwide office since 2006, when voters gave Schwarzenegger a second term.
Newsom’s pandemic actions have pushed the recall over the edge, especially after he was caught eating a lobbyist’s birthday in a fancy restaurant while telling residents to stay home last fall for a lobbyist’s birthday.
Organizers began removing him from office before the coronavirus hit California. Orrin Heatlie, a retired county sheriff sergeant, decided to issue a recall after Newsom declared the rights of illegal immigrants in the country. He and other Republicans were also frustrated with many of Newsom’s liberal policy choices.
Dozens of other serious and non-serious candidates are expected to enter the race.
So far, no other Democrats have announced plans to take on Newsom. The governor launched an anti-recall campaign in March, spurred on by Republican extremists and supporters of former President Donald Trump, who lost California twice.