- The Washington Times - Monday, April 26, 2021

State officials confirmed Monday what most had long suspected: that the campaign to oust California Gov. Gavin Newsom has gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced that 1.6 million of the 2.1 million signatures submitted to recall the Democrat Newsom have been certified as valid, exceeding the threshold of 1.49 million required to trigger a special election.

County election officials have until April 29 to submit their final petition verification figures, but Recall Gavin 2020 celebrated Monday the success of its longshot campaign.

“The People of California have done what the politicians thought would be impossible,” said Orrin Heatlie, lead proponent of the recall campaign and founder of the California Patriot Coalition. “This recall movement to remove Governor Gavin Newsom from office has reached yet another milestone.”

“Our work is just beginning.  Now the real campaign is about to commence,” he added.

Those who signed the petition will have 30 days to withdraw their signatures under revamped rules approved by the Democrat-controlled state legislature in 2017 during the recall of Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman.

There’s more. If there are still enough signatures to qualify, a financial review kicks in, after which Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis has 60 to 80 days following certification to call a special election, meaning that it may be months before voters decide Mr. Newsom’s fate.

The governor has come under fire for his progressive agenda as well as his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, such as imposing strict lockdown orders on churches, restaurants and small businesses while granting exemptions for film production.

“Voters signed recall petitions because California is on the wrong track, and we deserve better than the failures of this incompetent governor,” said California Republican Party chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson. “Gavin Newsom earned this recall, and we look forward to helping him into early retirement later this fall.”

Among those interested in running to replace Mr. Newsom if he is ousted are Republican John Cox, who ran against Mr. Newsom in 2018; former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.

“The people are speaking and they are being heard,” Mr. Cox said. “The recall of Gavin Newsom is happening. We are going to shake up Sacramento and take California in a new direction.  We are going to lower taxes, make our state more affordable, and put the people ahead of the insiders. I’m going to fight like hell for our great state.”

Under a recall election, voters would cast two ballots: one on whether to replace Mr. Newsom, and the second on which candidate should replace him if he is removed in the first vote. He cannot run to replace himself.

Polls show support for removing Mr. Newsom stands at about 40%. Californians have only recalled one governor, but it was in 2003, when Gov. Gray Davis was replaced by movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Republican action hero and bodybuilder served the remainder of Mr. Davis’ term and was reelected to a second term in 2006.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.