Republicans Launch Another Recall Attempt Against California Gov. Newsom

The latest efforts comes three years after a recall effort made a rare appearance on the ballot.

Another effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom is underway, just three years after a previous attempt to oust the Democrat from office crashed and burned with voters.

The plan to serve the governor with official recall papers Monday was first reported by Politico. The group behind the effort, Rescue California, shared the article on social media, vowing: “We did it before. We will do it again.”

The citizen-led group is the same one that managed to get a Newsom recall effort on the ballot in 2021, which failed with around 38% of the vote. He won reelection the following year.

“Gavin Newsom has abandoned the state to advance his presidential ambitions, leaving behind a $73 billion budget deficit and a public safety, immigration and education crisis,” Anne Dunsmore, the campaign’s director, told Politico.

Dunsmore did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.

Newsom dismissed the effort as a squandering of resources.

“Trump Republicans are launching another wasteful recall campaign to distract us from the existential fight for democracy and reproductive freedom. We will defeat them,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Democratic Governors Association said Monday it’s backing Newsom, with executive director Meghan Meehan-Draper echoing the governor on the effort’s potential to waste precious resources.

“Just like the last time, GOP extremists have signed themselves up for what will be a massive waste of time, energy, and resources that ultimately fails,” she said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) kicks off his campaign for Proposition 1 at Los Angeles General Medical Center on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) kicks off his campaign for Proposition 1 at Los Angeles General Medical Center on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024.
Myung J. Chun via Getty Images

The special recall election in 2021 cost Californians more than $200 million, election officials said. That doesn’t take into account the tens of millions candidates raised to spend on their campaigns.

The Rescue California campaign is targeting Newsom over several of his policies, including his granting undocumented immigrants access to Medi-Cal, the state’s free health care program for people with low incomes. They’re also zeroing in on the state’s budget deficit, which is around double Newsom’s forecast, and the time he’s spent campaigning for President Joe Biden.

To make it onto the ballot, the recall campaign needs to collect signatures of support equal to 12% of the voter turnout in the last gubernatorial election. That’s about 1.38 million signatures for this effort.

California is one of 19 states that allow recall efforts, but the 12% figure is a relatively low bar. Most other states require roughly double that percentage. Disgruntled Californians have long taken advantage of the policy; every single governor since 1960 has faced multiple recall attempts. However, the efforts rarely attract enough attention to trigger a special election.

The 2021 effort was likely helped along by a conservative judge who gave the recall campaign a 120-day extension of the usual 160-day signature-collecting period, citing voter outreach limitations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Efforts to alter the recall process are currently making their way through the California legislature. A major one would change what voters are asked on the recall ballot. As it stands, voters are asked two questions: Do they want to recall the governor? And if the governor is recalled, who do they want to be the replacement? If more than 50% of voters say yes to the recall, then whoever has the most votes as the replacement takes over the job, even if they don’t have a majority share of the votes.

The state legislature is currently reviewing a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the second question and allow the lieutenant governor to take over in the event of a successful recall.

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