By Ben Wynd
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom was praised for his swift and decisive actions to prevent the spread of the virus. After a few months however, Governor Newsom’s shine began to wear off as people grew tired of strict lockdown rules. This was exacerbated by Newsom’s attendance of a private indoor dinner at The French Laundry, (a three Michelin Star restaurant in Napa) while indoor dining was closed. Newsom had been facing a recall attempt due to his handling of the pandemic, but the recall had no real steam behind it until the French Laundry incident.
In order to trigger a recall election, 12 percent of registered voters in the last gubernatorial election from at least five counties are required to sign off on the petition. These numbers translate to organizers needing 1.495,709 valid signatures by March 17th. In California, triggering a recall is much easier than in other states, with some states not even allowing recalls. The controversially low signature threshold allowed for a recall election in 2003 of Governor Gray Davis.
The recall election ballot asks two questions. The first question asks if the Governor should be recalled in the first place, and the second asks if he’s recalled, who should be his replacement? Governor Davis was blamed for the state’s high energy prices, which ended with him being recalled from office and replaced by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. There were around 150 candidates on the ballot to replace Davis due to wonky election laws, which makes the recall evermore controversial.
Whether Newsom suffers the same fate as Davis is to be determined. His approval ratings have improved significantly, but it might be too late to prevent an election from being triggered. The election itself cannot be held until October or November, and who knows what the life of a Californian will look like at that time.