Democrats in California’s State Legislature are taking steps to lengthen the recall process in order to aid Gov. Gavin Newsom at the polls, The Associated Press reported.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis can set an earlier election date if the Legislature removes legislative review, aiding the governor’s current position in the race.
Democrats previously lengthened the recall process when California state Sen. Josh Newman faced a recall election in 2018.
The election date was pushed back to coincide with the 2018 primary, with the hope that higher turnout would aid the Democrat.
Newman lost the recall, though he did regain his seat in 2020.
“They’re trying to create a situation that is most favorable for the partisan outcome that they favor,” said Jack Citrin, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
He noted that changing the calendar threatens to reinforce the narrative that politicians will do whatever they want to stay in power.
Joshua Spivak, a recall elections expert and senior fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College, said the effort could backfire by giving Democrats less time to motivate their voters, while Republicans have already gathered 1.7 million signatures to remove Newsom.
Spivak pointed to Newman’s loss as proof of why Democrats should not mess with the schedule.
“That really suggested maybe we don’t know what we’re doing,” Spivak told the AP.
“You’re playing with fire by doing that.”
“Democrats’ rule changes failed to save Josh Newman from getting recalled four years ago, and voters aren’t going to fall for their trickery now either as they try and change the rules in the hopes of saving Gavin Newsom,” the California Republican Party wrote in a news release earlier this month.
State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a potential recall contender, told the AP that Democrats were trying to “ram through a new law.”
Katie Talbot, a spokesman for Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, said the extra time was not needed to review the election costs because it had already been decided to reimburse counties for the election, though she did acknowledge their actions could allow an earlier recall.
The changes are set to be voted on Monday, according to the AP.
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