• Tiana Poirier

California Recall Election against Governor Gavin Newsom

Updated: Oct 8

Gavin Newsom, the state governor of California, was up for recall this month after the plan was set in motion in February 2020 A recall election is an election where voters can remove an elected government official from office before their term ends if they deem their representatives unsuitable. In the U.S., 41 states allow voters to recall any elected official, 19 of which also allow the recall of state-level officials. The last successful recall in California was on Gary Davis, in 2003, from the position of Governor.
In order for a recall election to be set in motion for a governor, 12% of the population from the most recent election for governor must sign a petition within 160 days. The list of signatures is then examined by California’s secretary of state. With 12% equaling out to 1,495,709 valid signatures, it was surpassed, receiving around 1.7 million votes. Those wishing to recall are then given 30 days to change their minds.
Traditionally, there is an organizer at the head of the recall movement, and in this case, that is Orrin Heatile. Heatile is a former county sheriff who served for 25 years. He mentions he had the need to recall Newsom after he saw a video on social media of Newsom encouraging immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally to not allow law enforcement into their homes without a warrant. Afterwards , he gathered signatures and declared that Newsom is an “Insult to his profession” and proceeded to commend his act of recall because, “We’re bringing government back to represent the people.” (https://apnews.com/article/police-media-social-media-immigration-california-b52c919394878095b84cba9ed7deb433). He sought out candidates who would run against Newsom and informed them of the recall plans. However, the candidates he encouraged to run against Newsom had to meet several requirements first.
When a recall is officiated, candidates are put on a ballot and in the scenario that the governor is recalled, the next most voted for official takes their place. The ballot will ask the voter if they want to recall Newsom, and if they fill in “No”, they're done, but if they fill in “Yes”, they must vote for a replacement. The candidates must be a U.S. citizen registered to vote in California, they cannot have committed any felonies, and they cannot be the official up for recall. In addition to those requirements, they must also submit signatures from 7,000 supporters, or pay a filing fee of $4,000.
So people knew they wanted a recall and to get Newsom out of office, but who did they want to replace him? Let's take a look at Newsom’s greatest competitor: Larry Elder. Elder became the most popular and voted to replace Newsom in the event he was recalled. Elder, a conservative Christian black man, born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, quickly became the poster child for Republicans seeking a new governor. He works as a radio personality on Salem Media, and has used it as a platform to promote his ideas as governor of California. Salem Media looks for, “a voter base of fundamentalist Christians who are urged to the polls, based on their conservative and sometimes socially regressive beliefs, anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, etc.,”(https://www.npr.org/2021/09/14/1036923082/right-wing-media-outfit-powers-larry-elders-bid-for-california-governor ). Among those things, he promises to take away the Covid-19 laws Newsom put into place such as mask mandates, quarantining, and social distancing. Although he is not against the Covid-19 vaccine, he doesn’t think it’s right to mandate them. He is also passionate about eliminating any immigration laws or ideas Newsom started, like Medi-Cal, claiming, “The term is illegal alien” when presented with a question including the words “undocumented immigrant”. Then, he went on to call climate change representatives and activists, “environmental extremists”. (https://calmatters.org/politics/2021/08/newsom-recall-candidates-larry-elder-interview/ )
Now let's talk about Gavin Newsom. The 53-year-old is a Democrat from San Francisco who stands as the 40th Governor of California. He is married with 4 kids and was previously a businessman. While that all seems nice, that's not the reason for the recall. Many Californians disagree with his policies, especially Republicans. Despite California being a primarily Democrat state for the past 15 years, Republican values still make enough of an impact to start and follow through an entire recall election.
Newsom, a Democrat, has many plans for the future of California, many of which Republicans disagree with. It is impossible to ignore Covid-19 and the struggles to lead during uncertain times, but the recall started back in February 2020, before Covid-19 became a major issue in the United States. Newsom campaigns for immigration opportunities and safety, the decriminalization of marajuana, equal rights, housing the homeless, and environmental protection. If that isn't enough against republican ideals, that's when Covid comes into the picture. Critics of Newsom lost patience when he regulated stay-at-home orders, vaccines, and the closing of schools and businesses. And if that wasn't enough to anger them, on November 6, 2020 when he was seen at a restaurant party without a mask on while his orders for California citizens were to limit gatherings to only 5 people, 6 feet apart.
So with Elder and Newsom campaigning, Newsom to keep his job, and Elder to take it, September 14 came around. Voters were able to mail in or drop off ballots voting to either recall Newsom or keep him in office. Although the votes are currently still being counted, Newsom was able to retain his position due to the overwhelming number of votes against removing him from office.. Of the 89% that reported, 63% voted “No” and 37% had voted “Yes” in regard to his removal from office. With the recall event nearly over, many now turn to the state election just over the horizon. . On November 8, 2022, the California gubernatorial election will be held to determine the next Governor of California, of which Newsom will run again for. . With his winnings in the recall, he is confident in being re-elected.

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