The Daily Brew: Signature deadline for Newsom recall is in one week

Welcome to the Wednesday, March 10, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An update on the effort to recall California’s governor one week from deadline
  2. Pace of Cabinet confirmations – Biden, Trump, and Obama
  3. Reminder: Today’s briefing on upcoming ballot measures

An update on the effort to recall California’s governor one week from deadline

Proponents have until March 17 to submit 1,495,709 valid signatures to trigger a recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Here’s a summary of this effort so far. 

Recall organizers announced they had turned in more than 1.9 million signatures to the secretary of state’s office as of March 3. In the most recent reporting period, ending Feb. 5, the secretary of state had reviewed 798,310 signatures and deemed 668,202 of those (84%) valid. At the time of the report, 296,147 submitted signatures had not yet been reviewed. 

Here are answers to some questions you might be asking:

Why are proponents advocating for the recall?

Recall organizers 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. Five other recall efforts against Newsom since 2019 have failed to make the ballot. 

What are opponents saying about the recall?

In December 2020, a spokesman for Newsom said Trump’s supporters were behind the recall effort, which he also said would cost the state $100 million and distract from efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine and reopen schools.

Why 1,495,709 signatures?

California law says that for recalls of state executive officials, organizers must gather signatures equal to 12% of the number of people who voted in the last election for the targeted office. And 1,495,709 is 12% of the total votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election. The 12% signature threshold for gubernatorial recalls in California is the second-lowest in the country. In Virginia, the threshold is 10% of votes cast in the last election. In Montana, the threshold is 10% of eligible voters in the last election.

What would a recall election look like?

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled. A majority vote is required to recall him. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, with no majority requirement.

If there’s a recall election, when will it be?

The lieutenant governor would have to schedule an election within 60 to 80 days after signatures were certified. The exact date of the election could vary significantly depending on how long certain steps of the recall process took. Click here to learn more about how the entire process works.

The only successful gubernatorial recall election in California’s history was in 2003, when Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected governor. Since 1921, three other gubernatorial recall efforts have qualified for the ballot across the nation. Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) won a recall election in 2012 and remained in office. Gov. Fife Symington’s (R-Ariz.) recall election in 1997 was canceled after he resigned following his impeachment. And Gov. Lynn Frazier (R/Nonpartisan League) was recalled in 1921 in North Dakota. 

Read on 

Pace of Cabinet confirmations – Biden, Trump, and Obama

Joe Biden has been president for 49 days. In that time, Biden has had 10 of 15 main Cabinet members—those in the presidential line of succession—confirmed. The Senate has yet to hold confirmation votes for the following positions: attorney general, secretary of the interior, secretary of labor, secretary of health and human services, and secretary of housing and urban development.  

Two confirmation votes are scheduled today for Marcia Fudge for secretary of housing and urban development and Merrick Garland for attorney general.

Seven weeks after their respective inaugurations, Donald Trump had 13 of these 15 main members confirmed, and Barack Obama had 12 confirmed. A 13th Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

The following charts compare the pace of Senate confirmations for these 15 department heads for Biden and Trump on one hand and for Biden and Obama on the other. They do not include Cabinet-rank officials that vary by administration.

At this point in his presidency, Trump did not yet have a secretary of labor or secretary of agriculture confirmed.

At this point in his presidency, Obama did not yet have a secretary of commerce or secretary of health and human services confirmed.

Aside from the 15 Cabinet positions in the line of succession, other Cabinet-rank positions vary by administration. For example, Biden’s administration has 23 Cabinet-rank positions, and Donald Trump’s initial Cabinet had 22 positions. Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy are Cabinet-level positions under Biden but were not for Trump, while CIA director was a Cabinet position under Trump but is not under Biden.

Overall, 13 of Biden’s Cabinet nominees, including those not in the line of succession, have been confirmed.

Read on

Reminder: Today’s briefing on upcoming ballot measures

At 11 a.m. Central Time today, our own Josh Altic will hold a briefing on the 2021 and 2022 statewide ballot measures. You can register—for free—by clicking on the link below. Josh will go over measures already certified for 2021 and 2022 and talk about developing trends and notable potential measures. Here’s a sampling of what Josh will cover:

  • An overview of how many measures will likely be certified in 2021 and 2022 based on historical data,
  • Measures in Pennsylvania and Utah related to COVID-19,
  • An initiative in Maine that is likely to have the most spending for and against it this year,
  • Citizen-initiated measures already certified for 2022 in California concerning the state’s cap on medical malpractice damages and a veto referendum over the state’s flavored tobacco ban,
  • Multiple state legislatures considering supermajority requirements for certain future ballot measures, and
  • Proposed amendments on abortion and firearms in Kansas and Iowa.

If you can’t attend the presentation live, we’ll send you a link to the recording when it’s available so you can watch it on your schedule. I hope you’ll join us!