Backers of a campaign to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom cheered Monday’s news that more than enough signatures have been gathered to force a recall election, while the Los Angeles County Democratic Party responded with fighting words.
“Los Angeles Democrats say: Bring. It. On,” LACDP Chair Mark Gonzalez said in a statement. “Republicans are forcing a recall on a governor whose approval ratings are over 50%, and who has proven he can get things done, because they know they can’t win in 2022.”
Gonzalez called the special election a waste of time and taxpayer money, implying the cost could total as much as $400 million. The proposed state budget for 2021-22 is $227 billion.
But Newsom’s critics were celebrating just as emphatically, especially those interested in leading the state themselves.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the demand for change goes beyond just the Republican party.
“Californians from all walks of life are seizing this historic opportunity to demand change. Democrats, Republicans and Independents are coming together to support this recall and get our state back on track,” Faulconer said in a statement released shortly after the secretary of state announced the threshold to force a recall had been met.
“As the only candidate who’s won tough elections and enacted real reform, I am ready to lead this movement,” Faulconer continued, switching into campaign mode. “Together, we will turn the page on Gavin Newsom’s failures and begin a California Comeback to reopen our schools, cut taxes for working families, and create jobs for the people of our state.”
A total of 1,626,042 signatures have been validated, comfortably exceeding the required total of 1,495,709 signatures, according to Secretary of State Shirley Weber. The threshold is based on 12% of the 12,464,235 votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
The signatures from Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties made up nearly half of the total, roughly in line with their joint representation within the state. However, Orange and Riverside county voters accounted for an outsized number of the total relative to their population, with 215,714 and 146,610 signatures counted, respectively. Recall backers failed to generate the same level of interest in Los Angeles County, where the total number of signatures was much lower than the county’s size alone would suggest.
The next phase of the process is a 30-day window for people to ask to have their signatures withdrawn from the petition. The deadline to do so is June 8. Barring a drop below the roughly 1.5 million requirement, a recall election will move forward, although a date has not yet been set.
If the maximum time runs for various follow-up reviews, including an opportunity for county and state officials to estimate the cost of the election, the earliest possible date for an election would be mid-October.
Caitlyn Jenner is among those who have announced their candidacy.
“For the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people,” Jenner said in a statement issued Friday.
“As Californians, we face a now-or-never opportunity to fundamentally fix our state before it’s too late,” Jenner said. “Taking on entrenched Sacramento politicians and the special interests that fund them requires a fighter who isn’t afraid to do what is right.”
Jenner is a Republican who has never sought public office. In recent years, the 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medalist and reality television personality has been a vocal advocate for the transgender community after coming out as a trans woman in 2015.
Newsom said in March that he expected the recall to qualify for the ballot. He also criticized the need for a special recall election, calling it a “waste of time” and money, since the 2022 gubernatorial primary will be held just months later, in June.
Newsom and his allies have tried to link recall supporters to former President Donald Trump. Newsom’s campaign quickly circulated a fundraising email Friday saying Jenner “is working closely with Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager.”
However, Randy Economy, senior adviser of RecallGavin2020, has described the recall effort as “a grassroots historical movement fueled by 2,125,000 people from all walks of life.”
Organizers of the recall effort have focused on Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, criticizing his lockdown measures as too restrictive, saying he has “failed at his job and destroyed the lives and business of too many hardworking Californians,” according to RecallGavin2020.
RecallGavin2020 has also criticized Newsom for California’s “unaffordable housing, record homelessness, rising crime, failing schools, independent contractors thrown out of work, exploding pension debt.”
Newsom political adviser Dan Newman issued a statement Friday praising “Newsom’s competent, compassionate, experienced leadership during an unprecedented series of crises.”
Businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018, and former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, both Republicans, have also announced their candidacies, along with retired adult-film actress Mary Carey, who finished 10th in the field of 135 candidates in the 2003 race to choose a successor to then-Gov. Gray Davis in what proved to be a successful attempt to recall him.
Running as an independent, Carey received 11,179 votes, 0.2% of the total.
“There are a lot of great people coming forward to run for governor,” Economy said last week. “The campaign to replace Gavin Newsom just entered a new phase.”