On Feb. 19, the California Secretary of State’s office released the latest signature report in the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). As of Feb. 5, the secretary’s office validated 668,202 signatures of the 798,310 signatures that it processed, with another 296,147 submitted but not yet processed. So far, 83.7 percent of signatures processed by the state have been deemed valid. Supporters have until March 17, 2021, to collect the 1,495,709 signatures needed to trigger a recall election.
Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In June 2020, Newsom said President Donald Trump’s (R) supporters were behind the recall effort, which he also said would cost the state $81 million.
A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.
Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement. In the 2003 recall of Davis, 135 candidates ran and Schwarzenegger received 48.58 percent of the vote.
Between 1921 and 2020, four gubernatorial recall efforts have qualified for the ballot: 1921 (North Dakota), 1988 (Arizona), 2003 (California), and 2012 (Wisconsin). Of those, only two resulted in the sitting governor’s removal from office (Lynn Frazier in North Dakota and Davis in California). In the 1988 Arizona recall, the recall election was canceled following the governor’s impeachment.