California voters will decide whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom in an election on September 14, the state lieutenant governor said Thursday, setting up a 10-week window for the Democratic governor to make his case for staying in office.
Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis made the announcement after California Secretary of State Shirley Weber certified the recall effort.
Newsom’s critics had met the state’s threshold for a recall election in April following a sprawling effort to gather signatures in every county that was backed by key Republican strategists.
The drive was largely fueled by anger over the restrictions he put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 throughout last year and during an alarming surge in cases in California during the winter holiday months.
Newsom and his team have framed the recall as an effort by supporters of former President Donald Trump, and he signed a law earlier this week to speed up the process — a move critics objected to as an attempt to rush an election that already boasts a ream of challengers.
In September, the state’s voters will be asked two questions on the recall ballot. First, do they want to vote “yes” or “no” on recalling Newsom, who was elected in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote.
The second question is which candidate they would like to replace Newsom. Voters will choose from what is likely to be a very long list of names. By law, Newsom is not permitted to add his name to the ballot as an option.
When then-California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, was recalled in 2003, more than 125 candidates — including Davis’ eventual replacement, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger — leapt into the race, creating a circus-like political environment for months.
One immediate challenge facing Newsom will be getting his party affiliation listed on the state’s recall election ballot.
Newsom was supposed to mark his party affiliation in February 2020, pursuant to the state’s recall election law, but “due to an inadvertent but good faith mistake on the part of his election attorney, Newsom timely filed his answer but did not include his party-preference election,” according to a lawsuit he filed against Weber this week.
As a result, Newsom wants to “require all recall ballots to include either next to or below Newsom’s name his party preference as follows: ‘Party Preference: Democratic.'”
This story has been updated with additional information Thursday.