Newsom recall update: One more week for voters to remove signatures

The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Wednesday, June 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Here’s an update on the recall effort targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom
  2. Voters in New Jersey, Virginia to decide state legislative primaries on June 8
  3. Learn more about the administrative state with Ballotpedia’s 2021 Expeditions!

Here’s an update on the recall effort targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom

One week remains for any voters who signed a recall petition targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to request to have their signatures removed. The secretary of state’s office reported on May 5 it had verified 1,719,943 valid signatures recall organizers had submitted. According to state law, voters who signed a recall petition are permitted to remove their names within 30 days—by June 8—after they file a written request that includes their name, address, and signature with county elections officials.

If after that period, at least 1,495,709 signatures remain, the recall election will be certified and proceed to a budgeting and scheduling phase. Based on the remaining procedural steps required by law, political analysts in the state expect the recall election to take place in October or November 2021. Orrin Heatlie began this recall campaign on June 10, 2020. It is the fifth of six recall petitions filed against Newsom since 2019. The other five recall campaigns were inactive as of Feb. 3, 2021.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from office. 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 with no majority required. In the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis (D), 135 candidates ran, and the winner—Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)—received 48.58% of the vote.

So far, 37 candidates have officially filed with the secretary of state to run in a recall election. Among those are eight Democrats, 17 Republicans, two Green Party candidates, and a Libertarian Party candidate. The remaining candidates filed with no party preference. Ballotpedia has tracked an additional 13 candidates who have declared their intent to run in the recall election but have not yet officially filed. Among those are former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R), and Caitlyn Jenner (R).

On May 25, the Public Policy Institute of California published a poll finding that 57% of respondents opposed a recall, 40% supported a recall, and 3% were undecided. These numbers were about the same as a March poll by the same group, which found 56% opposed, 40% supported, and 5% undecided. Both polls surveyed 1,700 California residents and had a margin of error of around 3%.

Newsom was elected governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall an incumbent California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Davis and elected Schwarzenegger.

Thirty-nine states allow for the recall of all or certain elected public officials, as shown in the map below.


Voters in New Jersey, Virginia to decide state legislative primaries on June 8

Last week, we previewed state executive primaries taking place in one week—on June 8—in New Jersey and Virginia. Both states are also holding state legislative primaries. Let’s take a look at what’s at stake in these elections, and in Friday’s Brew, we’ll break down the number of incumbents running for re-election, and how many of those are facing contested primaries.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, all 120 state legislative seats are up for election—80 in the General Assembly and 40 in the state Senate. Since 2011, only one state legislative incumbent in New Jersey has been defeated in a primary—Assemb. Joe Howarth (R), who lost in 2019.

The last time voters decided all 40 New Jersey Senate seats was in 2017. Heading into the general election that year, Democrats held a 24-16 majority. After the election, the Democratic majority increased to 25-15. 

The last time voters decided all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly was in 2019. Heading into the 2019 general election, Democrats held a 54-26 majority, and after the election, the Democratic majority decreased to 52-28. 

Democrats have held majorities in both chambers of the New Jersey legislature since 2003, and New Jersey has been a Democratic trifecta since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) took office after the 2017 election. Murphy is running for re-election in 2021.


In Virginia, all 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election. The state Senate won’t be up for regular election until 2023. In 2019, one incumbent member of the House of Delegates—Robert Thomas Jr. (R)—lost in a primary election. Thomas’ defeat was the first for a House incumbent in Virginia since 2015.

Not all state legislative nominees in Virginia are chosen through a primary. District Democratic and Republican parties may decide to hold a nominating convention rather than a primary to pick their candidates. In 2021, at least 22 state legislative district parties—five Democratic and 17 Republican—selected nominees at conventions. Virginia elections officials have published a list of primary candidates but will not publish a listing of candidates who were nominated by convention until after the primary.

This is the first state legislative election cycle in Virginia since Democrats won a majority in the House of Delegates. Heading into the 2019 general election, Republicans held a 51-49 majority, and after the elections, Democrats had a 55-45 majority. Democrats switched six seats—they defeated four Republican incumbents and won two open districts. In the 2017 elections, Democrats gained 15 seats. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in Virginia for the first time since 1994. Democrats have held the governor’s office in Virginia since 2013.


Learn more about the administrative state with Ballotpedia’s 2021 Expeditions!

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