Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis to call recall election within 60 to 80 days of signature certification

A Republican-led effort to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office collected enough voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, state officials reported Monday. A pending recall election marks only the second time in the state’s history a campaign will get underway to decide whether to oust a sitting governor.

Recall backers submitted more than 1,495,709 verified voter signatures — equal to 12% of all ballots cast in the last gubernatorial election — meeting the minimum threshold to force a special recall election, according to a tally released by Secretary of State Shirley Weber. Barring intervention by the courts, Newsom will face a statewide vote of confidence by year’s end.

The haste to recall Newsom comes amidst growing concern over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In all, Newsom’s critics gathered 1,626,042 valid voter signatures on recall petitions, according to the report issued on Monday that contains information collected from elections officials in California’s 58 counties as of April 19. A few signatures remained unexamined and the final report will be issued by Friday.

Before the recall petition can be certified by Weber, voters who signed the petitions will be given time to withdraw their signatures and state officials will crunch the numbers on the cost to conduct the election, steps that could take up to three months to complete. Only then can Weber issue her official certification, triggering action by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis to call an election within 60 to 80 days.

Local officials from across California believe the cost of conducting the election could run as high as $400 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A potential recall election surfaces in stark contrast to 2018 when Newsom dominated the governor’s race by trouncing a field of Democratic rivals that included former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former state Treasurer John Chiang and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin, and a little-known Republican challenger, businessman John Cox. Newsom’s campaign stoked whispers and persistent speculation of a future White House run.

Image Sources

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom: Shutterstock