Growing unpopularity leads to Newsom recall election

More than 40,000 Contra Costa residents contribute to Newsom recall petition

Brady Horton , Staff Writer

Gavin Newsom looks to be the first California governor in almost 20 years to be sent to a recall election.

On April 26, California state officials reported over 1.6 million valid voter signatures in a petition to recall Newsom, enough to trigger a recall election.

“The next phase of the recall process is the 30-business day period in which voters may request county elections officials to remove their names from recall petitions,” the California Secretary of State’s office wrote on its website.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the state must also calculate the cost of the recall election before Weber certifies the petition and an election is called. This entire process can take up to 160 to 180 days, or six months, before an actual recall election is held.

Since Newsom’s election in 2018, Republican activists have tried to recall Newsom five times without much success. This petition is the sixth and most successful attempt.

The petition to recall Newsom started without much success back in February 2020, but gained traction after numerous on-and-off lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were instituted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The movement also got a huge boost following Newsom’s Nov. 6 visit to the upscale Yountville restaurant The French Laundry to celebrate the birthday of close friend and lobbyist Jason Kinney with 12 other guests. Many felt he was acting out of sync with his own COVID-19 recommendations, and not practicing what he preached.

“He’s done some things that were definite blunders, like the dinner at French Laundry,” senior Madden Windham said. “I just think nobody’s going to [handle COVID-19] necessarily better than he did.”

Many advocates of the recall have taken it upon themselves to set up booths across the state to gather signatures, some even appearing locally. In Contra Costa County alone, 42,706 valid signatures have been gathered thus far, according to the California Secretary of State’s website .

The recall effort is funded by the California Patriot Coalition, an organization of conservatives who believe in a “strong and secure constitutional republic governed by honorable men and women of strong moral character,” according to its website.

“If you are tired of the crime rate, unaffordable housing, rampant homelessness, failing schools, irresponsible spending, please get involved in this effort,” the Coalition states on their website. “You can be a part of liberating your state from a #LittleTyrant.”

In response to the effort, Newsom released the following statement on the recall petition in August 2019:


In order for the recall election to be triggered, a total of nearly 1.5 million valid signatures needed to be received by March 17. With 1.6 million signatures and counting, the effort has more than enough signatures to force the special election.

Hours after the state reported enough valid signatures to trigger the recall, Newsom denounced the effort on Twitter.

“This Republican recall threatens our values and seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made—from fighting COVID, to helping struggling families, protecting our environment, and passing commonsense [sic] gun violence solutions,” Newsom wrote. “There’s too much at stake.”

Among the candidates supporting the recall and running against Newsom is Republican Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego.

“On Gavin Newsom’s watch our schools are failing, homelessness is skyrocketing, small businesses are closing, and jobs are disappearing. His broken promises have become our problems,” Faulconer wrote on his website. “I know we can restore California’s promise of freedom, equality, and opportunity. That’s our promise.”

Other, possible opposition candidates include transgender icon Caitlyn Jenner and former adult film actress Mary Carey. Those opposing the effort include President Joe Biden, as well as the Democratic party as a whole.

“[Gavin Newsom] has done nothing close to justifying the recall campaign that is being waged against him,” California State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) said in a statement on Twitter.  “The recall is a distracting and destructive fool’s errand.”

The last recall election in California took place in 2003, when Democrat Gray Davis was successfully recalled and replaced by bodybuilder and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But California’s political landscape is tremendously different from that of 2003, and the recall is likely to fail this time around with Newsom highly unlikely to receive the 50 percent of the electorate’s votes needed to recall him.

“It’s likely that a recall election will happen, but I don’t actually think he’ll get removed from office,” history teacher Troy Bristol said.  “Even still, he’s a pretty popular governor in California.”

In his 2002 gubernatorial election, Davis carried California by a little less than five points, a far cry from Newsom’s almost 24-point victory in 2018.

This, paired with Newsom’s current 43 percent disapproval rating (compared to Davis’ disapproval rating above 70 percent at the time of his recall) cast serious doubt on the likelihood of Newsom actually being recalled.