The Reporter (Vacaville)

California sets date for recall election

- By Michael R. Blood and Kathleen Ronayne

California is close to finalizing a date for a recall election that could oust Democratic Gov. Newsom from office.

California on Thursday scheduled a Sept. 14 recall election that could drive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, the result of a political uprising largely driven by angst over state coronaviru­s orders that shuttered schools and businesses and upended life for millions of California­ns.

The election in the nation’s most populous state will be a marquee contest with national implicatio­ns, watched closely as a barometer of the public mood heading toward the 2022 elections, when a closely divided Congress again will be in play.

The date was set by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a Democrat, after election officials certified that enough valid petition signatures had been turned in to qualify the election for the ballot.

The announceme­nt will set off a furious, 10week burst of campaignin­g through the California summer, a time when voters typically are ignoring politics to enjoy vacationin­g, backyard barbecuing and travel.

Many voters have yet to pay attention to the emerging election, while polls have shown Newsom would beat back the effort to remove him. Republican­s haven’t won a statewide race in heavily Democratic California since 2006.

Republican candidates have depicted Newsom as an incompeten­t fop, while Democrats have sought to frame the contest as driven by far-right extremists and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

While a final date wasn’t set until Thursday, the campaign has been underway for months after it became clear that recall organizers had gathered more than enough of the required 1.5 million petition signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot.

Conservati­ve talk show host Larry Elder, 69, issued a brief statement Wednesday night saying he was seriously considerin­g entering the race and would announce his decision early next week. His entry into the race would give the Republican field a jolt of celebrity sparkle and a name on the ticket known through his nationally syndicated radio show and appearance­s on Fox News.

Other Republican­s who have said they will run include Kevin Faulconer, the former Republican mayor of San Diego, Republican businessma­n John Cox, who was defeated by Newsom in 2018, former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose and reality TV personalit­y and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner.

The GOP field is expected to continue to grow: Candidates have until 59 days before election to file papers to declare their candidacy.

In a recall election, voters would be asked two questions: First, should Newsom be removed, yes or no? The second question would be a list of replacemen­t candidates to choose from, if a majority of voters cast ballots to remove Newsom.

Tom Del Beccaro, a former head of the state Republican Party who chairs Rescue California, one of the groups promoting the recall, said Elder would help drive up support for the critical first question in his home Los Angeles area, the most populous in the state.

“Statewide races in California are often won or lost in L.A. county,” said Del Beccaro, who is not aligned with any candidate. Elder “is going to bring a constituen­cy that is going to help us get a ‘yes’ on the question No. 1.”

Steve Frank, a longtime conservati­ve activist serving as Elder’s spokesman, said his entry into the race would become “a major game-changer.” People across the political spectrum “know him, and many listen to his show.”

Elder, a Black man, also would bring more diversity to the Republican ranks.

Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney said Elder’s entry into the race would be a setback for Cox because “Elder would appeal to the hardcore Republican, conservati­ve base that would have been Cox’s base.” Faulconer is considered a GOP moderate.

Pitney doubted Elder’s race would play a significan­t factor, with the Black vote typically running strongly Democratic. Elder “has a reputation for being a provocativ­e conservati­ve, not a champion of AfricanAme­rican interests,” Pitney said.

The election in the nation’s most populous state will be a marquee contest with national implicatio­ns.

 ?? RINGO H.W. CHIU — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Gov. Gavin Newsom talks during a news conference at Universal Studios in Universal City on Tuesday.
RINGO H.W. CHIU — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Gov. Gavin Newsom talks during a news conference at Universal Studios in Universal City on Tuesday.

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