California recall backers confident after submitting 2.1M signatures

California Governor Gavin Newsom has already put together a team that will step up his defense in what is expected to be the largest elections in the country in 2021, according to Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

OAKLAND – Proponents of the recall against California Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday they had put in 2,117,730 signatures by the deadline, a number that appears to be well above the required threshold, even if some are invalid.

Newsom himself admitted Tuesday that the recall is likely to qualify, and he’s already put together a team to step up his defense in what is expected to be the country’s biggest election in 2021. Democrats could raise well over $ 100 million to defend the governor’s seat in one of the bluest states in the country.

The final filings will keep 58 district election officials reviewing the signatures. Proponents have already registered a validity rate of nearly 84 percent, which is higher than normal for voter-driven campaigns. The county registrars have until April 29 to verify that advocates across the state have received nearly 1.5 million required signatures.

In all respects, however, Newsom’s confirmation on Tuesday meant a campaign launch this week. His team has already run ads and started raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another Republican, former MP Doug Ose, joined former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox as candidates for the race this week.

The governor is trying to tie the campaign to supporters of former President Donald Trump, who is deeply unpopular in California. On the flip side, proponents of the recall are trying to focus on the intense frustration with the closure of Newsom’s pandemic stores and California, which is lagging behind all other states in reopening the school.

Republican recall strategist Dave Gilliard said in a tweet Wednesday that those who signed the petition were “64.10% GOP; 25.30% NPP (no party preference); 9.00% Dem; 1.60% others and 49.48% women. “He added that the recall backers were not focused on Democratic voters, suggesting that those who signed were looking for petitions themselves.

A recall election could be Republicans’ best chance at regaining governorship in a state where Democrats have controlled the state Capitol for years and GOP registrants have shrunk to less than a quarter of the electorate.

Under state law, when voting on a recall, voters are asked two questions: Do you want to call Newsom back, and if so, who do you want to replace him? Newsom cannot appear among the recall candidates, which leaves the door open for a multi-vote Republican to win if the GOP can convince a majority of voters to oust the Democratic governor.

According to Secretary of State Shirley Weber’s office, if the county registrars can demonstrate sufficient signatures have been submitted, various voting procedures must take place before the recall is actually determined. The head of the state elections has until May 9th to inform the counties that the election has qualified and can then give voters the opportunity to withdraw their signatures from May 10th to June 21st.

While this resignation process is legal under state law, Democratic strategists have told POLITICO that given the number of voters who supported the recall effort, it will likely be impossible for Newsom to find enough signatories to withdraw their support.

The districts then have until July 6th to notify Weber if there are still enough signatures. The state Treasury Department will then have July 6 through August 17 to analyze the recall costs, and state lawmakers will have until September 16 to weigh those costs against the budget for the recall.

At this point, Weber will be announced on September 17th, the same day that Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis announced the actual date of the election, officially certifying the signatures for the recall. Experts expect it to fall somewhere between October and the end of November.

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