California Meets Threshold to Set Recall of Governor Newsom

California has verified more than enough signatures needed for a recall of Governor Gavin Newsom, moving the state closer to an election later this year.

More than 1.6 million names had been certified as of Monday, passing the almost 1.5 million threshold to qualify for a ballot, Secretary of State Shirley Weber said in a statement. There is now a 30-day period for voters who signed the petition to withdraw their names, which an anti-recall campaign is pushing.

County officials have until Thursday to certify the validity of remaining signatures. A recall election will be held unless a sufficient number of signatures are withdrawn, Weber said.

“Gavin Newsom will now be running against himself in the recall election,” Mike Netter, one of the organizers of the recall, said in a statement posted on the campaign’s web page. “He created this recall because of his failed policies. Newsom has only one person to blame, and this is himself.”

The likely election promises to be an expensive spectacle in the most-populous U.S. state, where Newsom opponents have seized on resentment over California’s coronavirus shutdowns and response to the pandemic. The Democratic governor has tried to paint the recall effort as a radical movement by Republicans trying to rally their base after President Donald Trump’s defeat.

It would be only the second time in California’s history that a campaign to recall a governor has made the ballot out of 55 attempts. In 2003, Gray Davis was removed and replaced by Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, in a circus-like campaign that featured more than 130 candidates, including a porn star and a bounty hunter.

“The Republican recall -- backed by partisan, pro-Trump, and far-right forces -- threatens our values as Californians and seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made under Governor Newsom,” said Juan Rodriguez, manager for the Stop the Republican Recall campaign. “There’s simply too much at stake -- we will win.”

Newsom may have time on his side as widespread vaccinations help ease virus restrictions in California. The lieutenant governor, currently a Democrat, would schedule the election after a process determining its cost. The means a vote may not come until November, according to California Target Book, which tracks state politics.

After largely ignoring the movement, Newsom last month launched a campaign against it featuring support from prominent Democrats, such as Elizabeth Warren and Stacey Abrams, as well as Independent Bernie Sanders.

While Newsom’s approval ratings have faltered since last year, he’s still running ahead: 56% of likely voters in the heavily Democratic state said they oppose the recall, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California poll released in early April. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by nearly two to one.

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