WASHINGTON (SBG) — California Lieutenant Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said Thursday that Gov. Gavin Newsom would likely face a recall election before the end of the year over his handling of the pandemic and willingness to lockdown large parts of the state's economy.
Organizers for the campaign announced yesterday that they had collected more than 1.8 million signatures, or roughly 300,000 more than is necessary to trigger a recall election. They need to collect more than is necessary in case some signatures do not belong to registered voters.
Newsom drew widespread flak for flouting his requests for people to keep a wide berth from others during the pandemic.
The California Democrat was criticized after he was photographed maskless dining indoors at the French Laundry last November after urging residents to wear face masks “in between bites.” Newsom later apologized and called the dinner party a “bad mistake.”
Many small-business owners in the Golden State support the effort, including sisters Alexandra and Daniela Del Gaudio, who own a yoga space called Wild Plum. Their business closed in March when Newsom imposed stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the pandemic, which has so far killed 51,000 people in California, according to data from John Hopkins University.
The sisters started calling for Newsom's ouster after they amassed $70,000 in debt due in part to the lockdowns, according to The New York Times.
“Everyone says to walk away, but we put everything we have into this,” Daniela Del Gaudio told The New York Times. “We’re banging our heads trying to figure out what to do.”
What's The Next Step?
Organizers of the recall campaign must submit all their signatures officials by March 17. The number of signatures required is 12% of the votes cast during the 2018 gubernatorial election, when Newsom defeated the Republican businessman John Cox.
Counties have until April 29 to verify all of the signatures match registered voters in the state. California's secretary of state has 10 days to determine whether there are enough valid signatures to qualify the recall election.
The state’s Department of Finance will then work to determine how much a recall election will cost so officials can allocate the funds necessary to conduct the election.
Kounalakis' office is required to set an election between 60 and 80 days from the date of signature certification. Analysts have suggested that a recall election could take place in November.
If a recall election goes forward, voters would be asked: Should Newsom be recalled? If a majority of voters say yes, then they would be asked who should replace him.
Former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was the last governor to be recalled back in 2003. He was after increasing the state’s car registration fees and for the perception that he didn’t do enough to forestall rolling blackouts across the state.
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger won the election November of that year.