By Ivan Pentchoukov
The petition to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom has cleared its final hurdle on June 23 with confirmation from the state’s top election official that enough signatures remained after voters had been given a chance to withdraw support for the petition.
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said 43 signatures have been withdrawn during a supplemental signature withdrawal period, leaving 1,719,900 verified signatures that still meet the threshold to initiate a recall election.
Weber notified California Department of Finance Director Keely Martin Bosler, who is tasked with handling the next step in the recall process. The Department of Finance will determine the cost of the election and whether it will be conducted as a special election and be part of the next scheduled gubernatorial election. The department’s cost estimates are due on Aug. 5.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee will have 30 days to review and comment on the petition, after which Weber would be responsible for issuing the final certification as to the sufficiency of the number of votes to initiate a recall.
Newsom has faced intense criticism for flouting his own pandemic lockdown rules by dining maskless at a Michelin-Star restaurant. California has some of the highest taxes in the nation and a homelessness problem that is spiraling out of control, among other issues. Since 2000, the state has ranked near the bottom in terms of overall freedom on the Cato Institute’s “Freedom in the 50 States” index.
On June 23, an investigative report by CapRadio showed that Newsom had misled the public about his wildfire prevention efforts. The report concluded that Newsom overstated by 690 percent the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns. Newsom said fire prevention work was conducted on 90,000 acres but the state’s own figures peg the number at 11,399, according to the report.
Newsom cannot run in the recall election. It could be held as early as August or as late as November this year.
The recall petition against Newsom is only the second to succeed in the state’s history. While every governor since 1960 has faced a formal recall petition, the only petition to succeed was the one against Gov. Gray Davis (D), who was, as a result, replaced by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.