A recall election seeking to remove California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will take place on September 14, 2021. The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.
Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R), and former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R).
Recall supporters said Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In a March 2021 response, Newsom called the effort a “Republican recall — backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.”
Organizers of the recall campaign submitted 2.1 million signatures by the March 17 filing deadline. The secretary of state’s office found 1,719,943 signatures were valid – more than the 1,495,970 necessary to trigger a recall election. Voters who signed the petition had until June 8 to request removal from the petition. Forty-three signatures were removed, leaving 1,719,900 valid signatures on the petitions.
Newsom was elected as governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Orrin Heatlie began this recall campaign on June 10, 2020. It was the fifth of six recall petitions filed against Newsom since 2019. To read more about how this recall went from the official petition to the ballot, click here.
Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.