Lawsuit filed over Newsom recall voter guide language

On July 29, 2021, recall organizer Orrin Heatlie and the California Patriot Coalition sued California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) in Sacramento County Superior Court seeking to change the language in the official voter guide for the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

Newsom’s proposed official argument in the voter guide describes the recall as “an attempt by national Republicans and Trump supporters to force an election and grab power in California.” The plaintiffs allege this language, which was provided by Newsom, “mirror(s) his and his supporters’ paid advertisements” and amount to paid advertisement.

Newsom’s proposed language refers to himself as “Democratic governor,” which the plaintiffs are also challenging. On July 12, 2021, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled that Newsom would not have his party affiliation on the recall ballot because Newsom did not file a party preference form in response to the recall petition.

Nathan Click, a spokesperson for Newsom’s campaign, called the lawsuit baseless. “The facts are clear — this is a partisan Republican recall: one that was launched by Republicans like Heatlie and Netter and funded almost exclusively by Republican donors, the RNC and allies of Donald Trump,” he said.

A hearing in the case will take place on August 4. The deadline for public review and legal challenges related to the voter guide is August 6. The voter guide will be mailed to voters by August 24.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will 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.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R), and former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R).