Article and Photo by Yasmine Sarraf
On September 14th, Californians will decide whether Governor Gavin Newsom will remain governor of the state.
Californians who are unhappy with Newsom’s performance as governor are making an effort to recall him. Supporters of the recall claim he poorly handled the homelessness and housing crises, COVID-19 and blame him for the cost of living and high taxes in California. “The people are tired of corruption and politicians who don’t deliver,” says John Cox, one of the candidates running to replace Newsom. Most supporters of the recall are Republicans.
While many candidates are running to replace Newsom, only a few have a shot. One of them is conservative radio host, Larry Elder. Another candidate is John Cox, a San Diego businessman. He has run against Newsom before and lost. There is also Kevin Paffrath, a YouTuber and real estate broker. Both Elder and Cox are Republicans who supported Former President Trump in the 2020 presidential election; Paffrath is a Democrat who describes himself as more “in the middle.”
Newsom has launched a petition to combat the recall. He claims that the state is in danger from a Republican power grab and fears that under a Republican governor, California will become a version of Trump’s United States. According to the petition website, “national Republicans, anti-vaxxers, Q-Anon conspiracy theorists and anti-immigrant Trump supporters” are behind the recall. Much of Newsom’s support comes from Democrats, but it is still a close race.
But if Democrats outnumber Republicans in California, why is Newsom in trouble?
The main cause of this is apathy among Democratic voters. A CBS News poll shows that more Republicans plan on voting than Democrats. Newsom’s position depends on Democrats voting against the recall. While there are more Democrats in the state than Republicans, that will not matter for Newsom if he can’t get Democrats to vote.
The second cause is that the recall organizers got a four-month extension to collect signatures. Initially, they had until mid-November to collect around 1,500,000 valid petition signatures, but the COVID-19 pandemic made this more difficult. The recall organizers requested the Sacramento Superior Court for an extension. Judge James Arguelles granted them the extension, and they ended up meeting the requirement.
The recall gained more attention when Newsom was caught attending a gathering without a mask, despite telling people to stay home and abide by COVID restrictions. Many people were outraged with his actions, viewing him as a hypocrite.
Another cause of the recall is California’s unusual recall system and how Newsom is handling it. Newsom has to win 50 percent or more of the vote to remain governor. If he does not succeed, then the challenger who has the most votes will become governor.
The first question on the ballot is a simple “yes” or “no,” asking if Newsom should be recalled. The second question asks who his replacement should be if he is recalled, and offers 46 candidates as options.
Newsom is asking voters to answer “no” to the first question and to leave the second question blank, lowering the chances of him being removed. This causes problems for his party, though, because if he does lose the recall, then leaving the second question blank raises the likelihood for a Republican candidate to win.
Currently, Newsom narrowly surpasses the 50 percent majority vote requirement in the polls. However, Elder is polling higher than Paffrath and Cox; if Newsom is removed, he is likely to become governor.
It is up to voters to decide the fate of the recall election.