After months of scandals and public backlash, Californians have officially launched a recall of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Officials confirmed on Monday that a petition to put Newsom on the ballot has collected at least 100,000 more signatures than needed to approve the recall effort.
“The real campaign is about to commence”
Organizers of the campaign hailed the news as a “milestone” in the ongoing push to remove the widely unpopular governor.
Orrin Heatlie, who led the petition drive, said that Californians “have done what the politicians thought would be impossible,” but acknowledged that this represents just the first step toward the movement’s ultimate goal.
“Our work is just beginning,” he added. “Now the real campaign is about to commence.”
The recall effort has been powered by grassroots complaints about Newsom’s management style and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid harsh lockdown mandates, the governor eroded the trust of many of the state’s residents when he was spotted dinging at a luxury restaurant last year in violation of his own rules.
According to California’s secretary of state, the petition concluded in March with more than 1.6 million signatures. Petitioners have 30 days to withdraw their signatures.
“There is too much at stake”
As for the recall vote, it is likely to take place this fall, according to the Associated Press. If successful, voters will have an opportunity to choose Newsom’s replacement on the same ballot. Leading contenders include Caitlyn Jenner and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Faulconer, a Republican, asserted that “Californians from all walks of life are seizing this historic opportunity to demand change,” asserting that he is “ready to lead this movement” and touting his track record of winning “tough elections” and enacting “real reform” in the state.
For her part, California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said that the party looks forward to helping Newsom “into early retirement later this fall.”
Newsom is not the only Democratic leader to face criticism for COVID-19 decrees, but this could be a rare instance in which a politician is held accountable by the voters. Of course, he has an inherent advantage in California, where no GOP candidate has won statewide office since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won his second term in 2006.
The governor sent out a fundraising appeal on Monday in which he attacked the recall as a partisan ploy, asserting: “I am not going to take this fight lying down. There is too much at stake, and I intend to win.”