The effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom continues to gain momentum.

The Los Angeles Times Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers told Inside the Issues that supporters of the movement claim they have gathered more than one million signatures. In addition, reports show they have raised more than $2.5 million.

What You Need To Know

  • Organizers of the effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom have until March 17, 2021 to gather 1.5 million valid signatures

  • Funding for the recall effort has ties to financial backers in Orange County

  • Two new polls show state voters’ support for Gov. Newsom is declining

  • A special election could take place in late October or early November 2021

Recall organizers face a March 17 deadline to submit 1.5 million valid signatures, but Myers said they will likely need about 1.7 million total as some of them may be invalid. He said a court ruling allowed an extended signature-gathering period. Normally, the time frame would be 180 days, but recall supporters successfully argued to extend it.

He said some financial backers of the recall effort have ties to Orange County. Myers noted the strong legacy of recall efforts in California.

“I think the context is really important here,” he said. “First and foremost, every governor in modern California history has had some kind of recall effort filed against him.”

That includes the latest successful one in 2003 that ousted then-Governor Gray Davis from office. Film star Arnold Schwarzenegger won the recall election, which included 135 candidates. He served as governor of California from 2003-2011.

Myers said this new recall effort is interesting, particularly during a pandemic.

“It has picked up the steam, I think, during the COVID-19 era, and the frustrations that some Californians have had with restrictions that the Newsom administration has placed, the messaging, the feeling that there’s not a consistency. If you’re a Democrat right now, you want to paint this as a partisan exercise. You want to say ‘This is clearly Republicans, these are Trump Republicans.’ The Democratic Party has tried to do that.”

Meanwhile, California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks held a virtual press conference in January, in which he referred to the recall effort as a “coup.” He has since walked back those comments, but Myers said Hicks’ comparison fell flat.

“There was a substantial amount of blowback. Let’s remember, a recall is 100% legal under California law, under the California Constitution. This is not an insurrection. This is not a coup," he said.

Two new polls — one from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and another from the Public Policy Institute of California— show California voters’ declining approval of Gov. Newsom.

“I really think the key to this [recall effort] is how do Californians feel about the job Gavin Newsom is doing? If they don’t feel it’s a good job and they see all this on social media, we very likely could have the second statewide recall election of a governor later this year,” Myers said.

If recall supporters are able to get the required signatures, Myers believes there would be an election in late October or early November of this year. The first question would ask if voters want to recall the governor, while the second would give options on his replacement.

In large part, Gov. Newsom has not addressed the recall effort or deflected reporters’ questions about it.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has announced his candidacy for California governor in 2022. Other Republicans who say they will run if a recall effort makes the ballot include businessman John Cox and conservative commentator Mike Cernovich.

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