An Update on the Recall Governor Gavin Newsom Movement

Written by Skylar Shipp (News Writer)

The Newsom Recall will almost certainly be on the ballot this November. With recent polls putting Newsom’s approval rating below 50% for the first time (Forbes), it is evident that the recall effort must be taken seriously. The margins of the votes will no doubt be extremely influential in Newsom’s future political endeavors, including the 2022 Governor’s race, and in the fight to maintain his office, Newsom may have to appeal to new voting groups.

There have been many new developments relating to the recall but one of the most important is a change to the recall process just passed by the California Senate Elections Committee. The bill (SB 663) would allow California politicians facing recalls to see the names of the people who sign recall petitions and would also extend the period for signers to withdraw their signatures from 30 to 45 days (Sacramento Bee). While this bill won’t apply to Newsom’s recall election, it will apply to future recall elections with over 50,000 voters if signed into law. Interestingly, the bill is authored by State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) who was recalled and replaced in 2018 but was re-elected in 2020. Newman says the bill “would allow politicians to make sure voters weren’t duped into signing petitions and let them explain to voters how to withdraw their signatures if they wish.” (KTLA). Under the bill, “Politicians or their representatives would have to sign under penalty of perjury that they won’t share the names publicly and will only use them to determine whether signers understood the petition and want to remove their signatures.” This obviously creates some worries since it would give the official access to names and presumably a way to discuss removing a signature with the signer.

As the recall election draws closer it will be important for Newsom to form key allies, especially with interest groups that are unlikely to support Republicans. One important group for Newsom to win over is the cannabis industry. Proposition 64 passed in 2016, legalizing recreational marijuana for all adults over 21, yet, even 4 years later, 75% of transactions are carried out illegally. This is due to what many in the industry see as overregulation, and many local governments have banned dispensaries or cannabis cultivation. Gaining the backing of the cannabis industry by reforming Proposition 64 could open up more support for Newsom but it could also backfire and any reforms are likely to be used as a tool by Newsom’s opponents, putting him in a tricky position.

Despite all of the developments surrounding the recall effort, Newsom’s chance of being recalled remains relatively low. The Public Policy institute of California conducted a survey that showed only 40% of likely voters would vote to recall Newsom, as opposed to the 56% who would not vote to recall Newsom. While Newsom is unlikely to be recalled, the 2022 election will be far more difficult for Newsom. According to Newsweek “an Emerson College Poll for Nexstar Media Group asked 1,045 registered voters from March 12 to 14: “Regardless of the recall effort, would you vote to re-elect Governor Newsom in 2022, or do you think it is time for someone new? The majority, 58.3 percent said it was time for someone new.” 

It is important to recognize that the entire race could change in an instant, with strict COVID restrictions and school reopenings that have lagged behind most other states, Newsom is in an extremely vulnerable situation, especially if a Democratic challenger were to step into the recall race, or perhaps the governor’s race in 2022. According to KTLA, Dan Schnur, who teaches political communication at USC and UC Berkeley said: “Democrats “won’t have any choice, it’s important to present a unified front, but it’s even more important for them to protect themselves.” when asked whether there will be a Democratic challenger in the recall election.

The road ahead for Newsom, and California as a whole, is uncertain, and the outcome of this recall movement could change in a second. Right now, things look good for Newsom, and it is unlikely that he will be recalled if no Democratic challenger steps forward. However, The pandemic and the recall movement will make things especially difficult for Newsom in the 2022 election, and it is more likely that that election will be the end of Newsoms time as governor if current attitudes continue.

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