Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to come to California next week and campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom in the state’s tightening gubernatorial recall election ― a race that could have serious statewide and national implications.
“I am excited to join my friend and our Vice President next week. The stakes of this election couldn’t be higher,” the Democratic governor said in an announcement Friday, urging Californians to vote against recalling him in the Sept. 14 election. “California’s future is on the line.”
Harris, a California native, will appear alongside Newsom in the San Francisco Bay Area next Friday. Further details haven’t been released. Both of them launched their political careers in San Francisco at the same time in the early 2000s ― Newsom as mayor and Harris as district attorney.
News of Harris’ visit comes a week after a source familiar with the planning told HuffPost that both she and President Joe Biden would take an “active role” in the effort to keep Newsom in office. Biden released a statement that day praising Newsom as a “key partner” in his administration’s agenda.
“He’s taking on the climate crisis and standing up for the rights of women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community,” Biden said of Newsom. “He knows how to get the job done because he’s been doing it. And to keep him on the job, registered California voters should vote no on the recall election by September 14 and keep California moving forward.”
In recent weeks, polls show the share of voters who plan to vote against recalling Newsom has fallen, inching closer to a 50-50 split. The Democratic Party has put its support entirely behind Newsom instead of fielding a backup candidate, so his potential replacement is almost guaranteed to be one of the dozens of Republicans vying for the job.
A Republican governor in California could have serious implications outside the state. If Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is 88, were to retire or die before her term ends while a Republican governor is in office, that would give a GOP leader the opportunity to appoint her replacement and, presumably, restore Republicans’ majority in the U.S. Senate.
California’s recall ballot asks voters two questions: Do they want to recall Newsom? And if he is recalled, who do they want to replace him?
If more than 50% of people vote to recall him, then whichever of the 40-plus other candidates who has the most votes will become governor. That means there’s a possibility someone could become governor with around 20% of the vote, even if Newsom falls just short of 50% of support on the first question.
Biden and Harris have the challenge of rallying Democrats for an election that Republicans are more enthusiastic about.
Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder has the most support among Newsom’s opponents, surveys show. According to a late-July poll from the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, 18% of respondents are planning to vote for Elder. But among likely voters, that figure rises to 34%.
Elder has doubted the role of climate change in California’s deadly wildfires, has said “abortion is murder,” opposes COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates, and doesn’t consider racism a major problem in the U.S.
On Thursday, Elder’s ex-fiancee told Politico that he once waved a gun at her during an argument and regularly threatened, intimated and exerted disturbing levels of control over her during their 18-month engagement, which ended in 2015.