California’s gubernatorial recall election

Information on the recalls beginnings, what it means and some of the leading candidates.

There have been many attempts to recall governors in the past, but the recall election to get Gavin Newsom out of office is only the second time in California’s history that a recall has made it onto the ballot. The only successful recall attempt of a California governor was in 2003 when Governor Gray Davis was voted out of the office and replaced with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

There have been five failed attempts to collect enough signatures to recall Newsom. This latest attempt was led by Republican Orrin Heatlie, a retired sheriff’s deputy.

HSU professor Erin Kelly who teaches a class on American institutions expressed that pro-recallers are criticizing Newsom for his detachment from the suffering of Californians during COVID-19.

“This recall is happening in an extremely partisan atmosphere, with California Republicans (who are in the minority) overwhelmingly in favor of the recall, while Democrats oppose it,” Kelly said. “This is an expression of discontent from a party that has been largely powerless at the state level for some time.”

Kelly mentioned how that he’s also faced criticism because of unemployment benefits that went to incarcerated people, tax rates, gun and ammunition restrictions, and continued restrictions related to COVID-19.

The Recall Gavin Newsom website, created by Heatlie and others, also lists unemployment, homelessness, and policies relating to immigrants as reasons why Newsom should be recalled.

In order to get a recall on the ballot, a petition must have signatures from 12% of voters from the previous election for governor and from voters in at least five different counties. July 1, California’s Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, certified that these requirements were met and the election was set for Sep. 14.

Voters will be asked if they want to recall Newsom and who should replace him. If more than 50% of voters responded “yes”, the candidate with the most votes from question two will replace Newsom. Unlike in a regular California election, a majority of the votes is not required for a recall election candidate to win.

Fourth-year political science major, Eddie Rivera had something to say about the matter.

“This is troublesome in any democracy because hypothetically someone with 20% of the state’s support could become governor,” Rivera said. “This really does seem to be a cheap power grab by the California Republican Party.”

There are 46 candidates running against Newsom in the recall: nine Democrats, 24 Republicans, two with the Green Party, one Libertarian, and 10 with no party preference. The frontrunner on the Republican side is Larry Elder, who tossed his hat in the ring in July after challenging a requirement that candidates must disclose tax returns from the past five years.

Although he isn’t officially endorsed by the state GOP, Elder continues to lead in the polls, according to Fivethirtyeight. Elder, 69, is a radio talk host who has described himself as ‘fiscally conservative and socially moderate.’

Among other initiatives, Elder said that if elected he will suspend mask and vaccine mandates right away, calling them an ‘assault on freedom.’

The leading Democrat candidate is YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, 29, If elected, Paffrath explained how he will focus on policies regarding income tax, homelessness, and education. Regardless of the recall result, Paffrath said he will run again in 2022.

Journalism freshman Gerardo Hernandez, a registered Democrat, is in favor of the recall. Hernandez believes that issues regarding homelessness, unemployment, education, and income loss have gone unresolved under Newsom.

“I believe that our governor is an incompetent leader that has not made significant changes to benefit our state and I think now is the perfect opportunity to get rid of him and have new leadership,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez plans to vote for 36-year-old Republican Assembly Member Kevin Kiley, who has authored bills on free speech on college campuses, school choice, and protections for victims of sexual abuse.

Kelly said that even if the leading candidate, Elder, was voted in, he’d face Democratic supermajorities in the legislature so he wouldn’t be able to get much done without using executive orders and emergency powers. Whoever the winning candidate is, they’d only serve for a year before they’d have to run again in the 2022 election. The Democratic Party is urging voters to vote against the recall and leave question two on the ballot, who should replace Newsom, blank.

Kelly encourages everyone to vote, especially young people.

“This is your state, this is your future, and it is an easy thing to do,” Kelly said.

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