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CA Recall Effort Officially Has Enough Support to Put Newsom's Political Future to a Vote

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Organizers of the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom have collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, state election officials said, likely triggering just the second such election in state history.

“The people of California have done what the politicians thought would be impossible,” Orrin Heatlie, the retired county sheriff’s sergeant who launched the recall effort last year, said. “Our work is just beginning. Now the real campaign is about to commence.”

Heatlie spearheaded the signature collection effort that began in June and picked up momentum in the fall as frustration grew over Newsom’s coronavirus restrictions.

The California secretary of state’s office said that more than 1.6 million signatures had been deemed valid as of Monday, about 100,000 more than required.

An election is likely in the fall, and voters would face two questions: whether Newsom should be recalled and who should replace him.

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If Newsom survives the recall, he will be up for re-election in 2022.

People who signed petitions now have 30 days to withdraw their signatures, though it’s unlikely enough will do so to stop the question from going to voters.

The recall against Newsom, a first-term Democrat, will be among the highest-profile political races in the country this year.

He launched a campaign to fight the effort in March alongside endorsements from Democrats including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. So far no other Democrats have jumped in to run against him.

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“I am not going to take this fight lying down,” Newsom said in a fundraising appeal shortly after Monday’s announcement about the signatures. “There is too much at stake, and I intend to win.”

His campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, said the recall campaign “seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made under Governor Newsom — fighting COVID, supporting families who are struggling, protecting our environment, common-sense gun safety laws.”

Republicans running to replace Newsom include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and reality TV star and former Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner, who has never run for elected office. Businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018, and former Rep. Doug Ose, also are running.

“Californians from all walks of life are seizing this historic opportunity to demand change,” Faulconer said in a statement. “As the only candidate who’s won tough elections and enacted real reform, I am ready to lead this movement.”

Dozens of other candidates are expected to enter the race.

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The only other time a California governor has faced a recall election was in 2003, when Democrat Gray Davis was voted out and replaced with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Newsom was elected in 2018 with support from more than 60 percent of the voters. Recalling him will be tough in the heavily Democratic state where just a quarter of the state’s registered voters are Republicans.

But the recall’s organizers see an opening with voters of all political stripes who were angered by Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and those frustrated with one-party Democratic rule in Sacramento.

Recall organizers have said about 30 percent of the petition signers were Democrats or independents.

Newsom’s actions during the pandemic tipped the recall effort over the edge, especially after he was caught last fall dining at a fancy restaurant while urging residents to stay home.

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