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EXPLAINER: How California could recall its governor

Gavin Newsom
Posted at 3:52 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 18:53:37-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election Sept. 14 that could remove him from office. California is one of 19 states that allow voters to initiate a recall to remove a sitting governor.

Newsom was elected in a 2018 landslide in the heavily Democratic state, but his popularity tumbled as frustration spread over long-running coronavirus rules that shuttered schools and businesses.

A reopened economy and falling virus cases have helped Newsom recover his footing, but he could face new challenges from wildfires or drought.

Republican candidates, including businessman John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, call Newsom a failure.

What will the recall ballot look like?

A 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. In the 2003 recall of Davis, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.58 percent of the vote. A sample ballot image of the 2003 gubernatorial recall election is below.

Sample Ballot

If the recall is successful, how long would the replacement governor serve?
Following the successful recall of a governor, the replacement serves through the end of that current term. Newsom's current term expires on January 2, 2023. The next regularly scheduled election on November 8, 2022, would determine the new governor after the replacement serves the remainder of Newsom's term.
Ballotpedia