Recall leaders said Wednesday night that they have well exceeded that target, turning in more than 2.1 million signature petitions to county officials. But it’s now up to those officials, who have until April 29 to finish verifying the signatures and then report their results to the California secretary of state.
Q: If it qualifies, how soon would the recall land on the ballot?
A: No one has a good answer to that yet, because there are a lot of procedural steps that must be completed before the lieutenant governor would officially call the recall election. But sources on both sides of the recall expect it to land on the ballot sometime between August and December. First though, there’s an arcane series of next steps.
After county election officials finish verifying signatures by the end of April, the secretary of state has until May to report back to the counties about whether the recall has qualified. After that, any voter who signed a recall petition has 30 business days to reconsider and withdraw their signature. Then county officials conduct a second verification process to determine whether there are still enough signatures. If the recall proceeds, the California Department of Finance and the secretary of state come up with a cost estimate that is sent to the chair of the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Newsom, Lt. Gov Eleni Kounalakis and Secretary of State Shirley Weber. The budget committee has 30 business days to review the estimate. After final signoff from Weber, Kounalakis would be required to set a date for a recall election that is no earlier than 60 days from that point and no later than 80 days.
Q: What would voters see on the ballot if qualifies?
A: The state’s voters will be asked two questions. First, do they want to vote “yes” or “no” on recalling Newsom. And two, who should replace him — a question that is likely to be followed by a very long list of names, just as it did in 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, replaced former California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat.
Q: Can Newsom enter his own name in the running for question No. 2 as a backup plan?
A: No. He’s banned from doing so under state election law.
Q: Newsom was elected in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote in one of the most liberal states in the country. How did he end up in this predicament?
Q: Did Newsom take a more restrictive approach to managing the pandemic than other governors? Why has so much anger been directed at him?
Q: Why was his visit to French Laundry in Napa Valley such a big deal?
Q: Who’s behind the recall effort?
A: The lead proponent of the recall is a retired county sheriff’s office sergeant named Orrin Heatlie, who was joined by 124 others in submitting the petition. His grassroots group, California Patriot Coalition — Recall Governor Newsom, focused heavily on signature gathering and worked closely with another group called Rescue California…Recall Gavin Newsom, which raised a considerable amount of money for the effort. The second group included California GOP heavy-hitters including longtime consultant Anne Dunsmore and former chairman of the California Republican Party Tom Del Beccaro. Both the California State Republican Party and the Republican National Committee made major donations to help the effort. Other top funders include Orange County entrepreneur John Kruger, real estate developer Geoff Palmer and venture capitalist Douglas Leone.
Q: What are the key metrics to watch to determine whether the recall will succeed or fail?
Q: If the recall qualifies, who should we expect to run to replace Newsom?
Q: What is Newsom doing to stop the recall?
A: For starters, after largely shrugging it off and focusing on his duties as governor, he’s now pivoted to a more engaged posture — doing a series of press interviews to trying to define his opponents. Democrats launched a new effort — Stop the Republican Recall — the day before signatures were due earlier this week, and Newsom has referred to the recall proponents as “anti-mask and anti-vax extremists” and “pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.”
President Joe Biden opposes the recall, along with many California Democrats in Washington. As Newsom focuses on getting Californians vaccinated in the coming months, expect to see many prominent Golden State Democrats forcefully defending his record as governor as they work to redefine his image. Newsom’s current strategy was encapsulated by his March 15 tweet: “I won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall — but I will fight it.”