Tuesday is the final day for California voters to return their vote-by-mail ballots or cast ballots at voting centers in the gubernatorial recall election.
The recall ballot contains only two questions: should Gov. Gavin Newsom be recalled — removed — from office, and if so, which of the 46 candidates on the ballot or seven write-in candidates should replace him?
If 50% or more voters respond “no” to the first question, Newsom will remain in office, and the results of the second question will be irrelevant.
If more than 50% of people vote “yes” on the first question, Newsom will be removed from office and replaced with the candidate who receives the most votes in the second question on the ballot.
“This recall is a referendum on Gavin Newsom’s failure,” said former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is among the Republicans seeking to replace Newsom. “That’s why so many Californians not only signed the recall petition, but that’s why Californians in all parts of the state, all party registrations, are ready for a change at the top.”
Newsom on Monday morning again took to social media to urge voters to reject the recall, writing, “Tomorrow CA has the power to stand up for progress. For science. For women’s rights. For immigrant rights. For commonsense gun safety. Tomorrow we can show the rest of the nation that we won’t let Republicans drag our state backwards. Make sure your voice is heard.”
President Joe Biden urged voters Monday night to reject the recall, citing Newsom’s record on the coronavirus pandemic, women’s rights, climate change and minimum wage.
“We need science, we need courage, we need leadership. We need Gavin Newsom,” Biden said during an approximately 15-minute address at Long Beach City College.
“A governor who follows science, who’s got the courage to do what’s right.”
Biden sought to tie supporters of the recall to former President Donald Trump, who is tremendously unpopular in California.
“You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you get Donald Trump,” Biden told the crowd of approximately 1,100, including Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis.
“The choice should be absolutely clear. Gavin Newsom. You have a governor who has the courage to lead.”
Newsom has been stepping up his campaign activities in recent days, campaigning in Northern California last Wednesday with his longtime ally, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Republican talk show host Larry Elder dismissed the presidential support for the governor.
“If Gavin Newsom thinks that flying in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — not exactly the most admired government officials at the present time — will make him look better, that’s all you need to know about how oblivious and detached Newsom is from a large majority of Californians,” Elder tweeted last week.
During a Monday morning appearance in Monterey Park, Elder repeated many of the recall’s themes — criticism of Newsom’s handling of issues such as homelessness, crime and the COVID-19 pandemic, accusing him of “ignoring science” in the imposition of business and school closures.
Elder also shot back at recall critics who have labeled it a “Republican” movement.
“There are 2 million people that signed that petition,” Elder said. “A good quarter of them to a third of them were the people who voted for him just two years earlier. I’m talking about independents and Democrats. Sixty-three percent of Hispanics voted for him two years ago. Now the majority of Hispanics want him out.”
Elder has consistently led polls gauging who would take over in the governor’s office should Newsom be recalled. He is an outspoken opponent of government mandates — such as those requiring mask-wearing or receiving COVID vaccines — and has vowed to eliminate them immediately if elected.
Elder has never held public office. If elected, he would be the state’s first Black governor.
Beyond Elder, Faulconer and another Republican, businessman John Cox, have been the most prominent candidates seeking the office.
Faulconer has touted his work as San Diego mayor as evidence of what he plans to do for the state, saying he has experience “cleaning up our streets, keeping neighborhoods safe and bringing people together.”
“This recall is a referendum on Newsom’s failures,” Faulconer wrote on social media Monday. “He wants to distract from that. I’ll clean up our streets, end open air drug markets and make our state more affordable for everyone as governor.”
Faulconer has touted his ability to work cooperatively with politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Cox, who finished second behind Newsom in the 2018 election, has touted himself a political outsider who will bring a business-like administration to Sacramento. He has taken to headline-grabbing campaign theater during the race, appearing alongside a live bear to support his beauty-versus-beast campaign theme. He also toted an 8-foot-tall ball of trash that he said was symbolic of the state’s homelessness crisis and failures to address it.
Newsom “and his political insiders in Sacramento have driven California into the ground,” Cox said. “Vote yes to (recall Newsom) and elect a businessman with a proven track record of getting things done.”
Cox is also outspoken in his opposition to mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
Voting locations will be open until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Vote-by-mail ballots will be tallied as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday. The ballots can also be dropped off at any voting location or county elections office, or placed in a ballot drop box.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, more than 8 million vote-by-mail ballots had been returned statewide as of Sunday. Nearly 22.4 million were sent to voters.