On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall election that will determine his fate as governor of the Golden State.
It is the fourth gubernatorial recall election in US history and the first recall election of a governor in the state since 2003.
As President Biden is set to campaign with Newsom on the day before the election, here is everything you need to know about the recall.
What started the California recall movement?
Prior to the first height of the coronavirus pandemic, a recall petition was introduced against the Democratic governor on Feb. 20, 2020. The grounds for the recall did not initially include anything related to COVID-19 but said that “Governor Newsom has implemented laws which are detrimental to the citizens of this state and our way of life.” The petitioners cited high taxation, growing homelessness rates, rationing water use, imposing sanctuary state status, and more.
However, as COVID-19 spread throughout the state and draconian containment policies followed, reasons for the recall grew.
During the summer, Newsom drew fire for imposing harsh restrictions on public gatherings, mask mandates and broad economic shutdowns.
Public ire grew last fall when the governor was spotted breaking his own orders, attending a gathering with multiple households in an enclosed environment — at the upscale French Laundry restaurant.
How many support the recall election?
The recall movement is largely supported by Republicans and other critics of Newsom. Just over 1.4 million verified signatures were needed to trigger the recall election and the petition gained more than 1.6 million signatures.
As of Monday, FiveThirtyEight found that according to a polling average across the state, 57.5% of voters want to keep Newsom as governor compared to 40.8% who want to remove him from office.
Former President Donald Trump has expressed support for the recall, but remains skeptical of its outcome.
“Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn’t rigged? Millions and millions of Mail-In Ballots will make this just another giant Election Scam, no different, but less blatant, than the 2020 Presidential Election Scam,” he said on Monday.
Who are the leading candidates challenging Newsom?
If more than half of voters support his recall, Newsom will be removed from office and replaced by the top-polling candidate among his potential replacements.
Forty-six candidates are vying to be the next governor of California, including former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, former California senator Doug Ose, and former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Newsom’s biggest challenger is well-known Republican radio talk show host Larry Elder, who is seeking to become the state’s first black governor. Elder made headlines last week when a white woman in a gorilla mask attempted to attack the candidate by throwing an egg at his head.
When is the recall election?
The election is set for Tuesday, Sept. 14, however, California voters have already been submitting their ballots. As of Monday, over 35% of the state’s active, registered voters had submitted their vote, per the New York Times. Voters will have the chance to vote in person on Tuesday if they choose not to vote by mail.
The first question on the ballot asks voters whether they would like to remove Newsom from office. The second question asks voters who they would like to replace the governor with.
Per FiveThirtyEight, Elder is polling as the top replacement candidate by a large margin at 28%.
What will happen if Newsom is removed?
While early polling suggests voters wish to keep Newsom in office, there is still a chance he could be removed.
If the vote is close, it may take several days to verify the results and possibly over a month for the California Secretary of State to certify the election. If the voters choose to recall Newsom, he will remain in office until the election is certified.
This means that even if a result is called on Tuesday night, Newsom will be able to sign any of the approximately 298 bills on his desk until the recall election is certified.
The last California governor to be recalled from office, Gray Davis, signed several pieces of legislation after being recalled in early October 2003 until his last day in office in November.
Who is supporting Newsom?
Top Democrats across the country have lent their support to Newsom throughout the recall movement.
Most recently, Vice President Kamala Harris joined Newsom at an event last week to show her support. Her visit was a do-over for a rally that Harris was forced to cancel in the wake of the horrific terror attack on US troops at Kabul’s airport.
President Biden has offered his endorsement for the embattled governor and is expected to campaign with him on Monday night.
Newsom has also been bolstered in a commercial featuring former President Barack Obama.