The California recall election could see the removal of the first-term Democratic governor. Gavin Newsom’s term ends Tuesday. Out of 22 million ballots sent to registered voters, just over 8.5 Million mail-ins were returned before Election Day.
This summer saw the country’s most populous state experience a spike in coronavirus infection from the highly contagious Delta variant. Also, masks were returned to many areas. There have been wildfires and crime rates have risen. The homeless crisis has not abated.
Republicans hope to win an upset in heavily Democratic California, where the GOP hasn’t won a state election since 2006. Newsom has been speaking out about his record regarding the virus and warned that Larry Elder Republican frontrunner, a conservative talk-radio host, would threaten California’s progressive values.
Nationally, the election is being closely watched. The outcome could have an impact on the 2022 elections.
How did California get to this point? Here are some ways to find out:
What is a RECALL ELECTION?
California is one 20 state that has provisions for recalling a sitting governor. The other 19 states have this right through elections. The state law that established the rules dates back to 1911. It was created to give voters more power , allowing them to remove elected officials or repeal laws and place them on the ballot.
Although recall attempts are quite common in the state they seldom make it to the ballot. The last time a governor was recalled, it was 2003 when Democrat Gray Davis was removed from office and voters elected Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In late August, a federal judge rejected a lawsuit seeking to block recall. The suit claimed that the recall violated the Constitution because it created a situation in which a sitting governor could lose recall but still receive more votes to remain in office than the winner.
WHY IS A RECALL DRIVE AGAINST NEOM?
It is both simple and complex.
The simple fact is that Californians became angry during the pandemic. Whipsaw orders for stay-at-home by Newsom caused massive job losses due to business closings, school shutters, and disrupted daily life. Many aspects of daily life were disrupted, even if they were trips to the beach and lunches at favorite taco joints.
The tricky part is that California has nearly 40 million residents. There are many grievances. California’s high taxes, rising food prices and gas prices, water rationing to deal with a prolonged drought, an aging homeless population, and the constant threat of wildfires are just a few of the issues. Newsom, as governor, is an easy target for this resentment.
He is also being affected by fallout from multibillion-dollar fraud at the state unemployment agency.
HOW DOES THE ELECTION OPERATE?
Two questions were asked : The voters were asked whether Newsom should be removed and then who should replace Newsom. There were 46 candidates for the replacement of Newsom.
Newsom’s removal is approved by a majority of voters. The candidate with the highest number of votes on the second question becomes the governor. There are dozens of candidates who will divide the ballots so it is possible that a winner might get 25% or less.
Newsom succeeded in dissuading any other Democrats with political standing to enter the race and offered himself as an alternative if the recall was successful. He encouraged his supporters to vote against the recall, but left the second question unanswered.
Who are THE REPLACEMENT CANDIDATES?
The ballot has 46 names, but Doug Ose, former Congressman, withdrew from the race due to health issues after it was printed. Elder, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox who was defeated in 2018 by Newsom; reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner, who is also an Olympian; and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley are the 24 Republican candidates.
There are nine Democrats and 10 independents. Two Green Party members, one Libertarian, and two Green Party members make up the group. There was no Democrat of political standing — Kevin Paffrath, a YouTuber and real estate agent, is the most well-known. The vast majority of candidates are not well-known and have not run credible campaigns.
What are the CANDIDATES PROMISING TO THE CANDIDATES?
Elder, who is leading the field in polls, has pledged to bring a new eye and common sense into the Democratic-dominated state. He has also said that he would quickly lift the state mask and mandates for vaccines.
Kiley stated that he would immediately stop the pandemic emergency. This would wipe out any state or local orders made under it.
Faulconer proposed eliminating the state income tax on individuals earning up to $50,000 and households making up to $100,000. This is part of a plan that aims to make the state more affordable to the middle class.
Cox wanted attention by running with a Kodiak bear of 1,000 pound (450 kilograms) that he claimed represented the need for “beastly” changes in the state. He is now calling for a historic tax reduction.
Jenner was a big draw when she entered the race, but she has been very quiet and is not getting much attention in the polls.
What is NEWSOM SAYING About the RECALL?
For months, he avoided questions about a recall, saying that he wanted to concentrate on vaccinations, the coronavirus and reopening schools. He launched an aggressive campaign in March and started running ads against the recall.
Through August, the main opposition committee had raised almost $70 million.
Newsom was elected to office in 2018 by a landslide. He acknowledged that many people felt anxious after a year of restrictions. He has been defending his record during the pandemic, arguing that his decisions saved thousands of people’s lives. However, he warned that a Republican win would weaken the state’s progressive values as well as have an impact on the nation.
Democrats claim that the attempt to remove him is driven by far-right extremists as well as supporters of former President Donald Trump. While the recall is supported by national Republicans and state governments, organizers claim they have a wide-based coalition that includes Democrats and independents.
Newsom has been focusing his criticisms on Elder lately, calling him more extreme than Trump in many ways. Elder dismissed such criticisms as political maneuvers to distract attention from Newsom’s record on crime and homelessness, as well the pandemic.
The governor spent a lot of 2020 on defense. He has been able to benefit from a record-breaking budget surplus, which allowed him to tour the state and announce massive new spending programs. These include $12 billion to combat homelessness, checks of up to $1100 each for millions low- and middle-income earners who were locked down; and $2.7B for free kindergarten for all 4-year-olds in the state.
HOW PRECARIOUS IS NEWSOM’S HOLD ON HIS JOB?
Newsom’s popularity plummeted during the pandemic. He appeared to be insecure, as there was widespread unrest about the long-running closures of schools and businesses. Many business owners were furious at Newsom’s arbitrary restrictions, which had some open and close multiple times. Others opposed mask mandates.
Newsom was able to recover earlier this year thanks to a reopened economy, and an incredible windfall of tax dollars. But, virus cases dropped to an all-time low after Newsom fully reopened state on June 15. The number of cases has risen, especially among the unvaccinated.
Los Angeles County, which is home to 25% of California’s residents, has imposed an indoor mask requirement in public places. This mandate applies even if the people have been vaccinated. California is also requiring K-12 students to use masks to return to school. This order could be a problem for Newsom, particularly among those who feel he did not do enough to reopen schools last school year.
Recent polling suggests that Newsom is well-placed to keep his job. Newsom has some advantages over his GOP opponents: Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 2-to-1 and they control every state office. They also dominate the Legislature and congressional delegation. Former President Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden have called for the rejection of recall.
The last time Republicans won statewide elections was in 2006 when Schwarzenegger got reelected.