August 19, 2021
California has published a voter's guide for the September 14 gubernatorial recall election. It includes arguments from the recall proponents as well as one from Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. There are also statements from many of the 46 candidates hoping to replace Newsom if he is recalled.
A vote-by-mail ballot will be sent to all active registered voters in California. There will also be in-person early voting. Polls are open on Election Day from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM Pacific Time.
There is one 'yes or no' question on the ballot: "Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?"
Below that question is a list of the candidates to replace Newsom if he is recalled. Voters can select one of those names or write in someone else. Voters can select 'no' on the recall question and still choose a replacement.
If a majority (50%+1) of the recall question votes are 'yes', Newsom will be removed from office and replaced with the replacement candidate receiving the highest number of votes.
Most polling has narrowly favored keeping Newsom in office. In terms of a replacement, conservative talk show host Larry Elder has led most surveys, seeing support in the low 20% range. Other notable Republicans in the race include:
- John Cox, businessman who lost to Newsom in the 2018 election.
- Kevin Faulconer, former mayor of San Diego
- Ted Gaines, member of the State Board of Equalization and former state legislator
- Caitlyn Jenner, reality TV personality
- Kevin Kiley, state assemblyman
- Doug Ose, former U.S. Rep. who ran for governor in 2018. Ose dropped out earlier this week after suffering a heart attack. He remains on the ballot.
The most notable Democrat in the race is YouTube influencer Kevin Paffrath. At the urging of Newsom's campaign, Democrats with political experience largely stayed on the sidelines. This strategy may backfire, opening the door for a Republican governor in one of the nation's bluest states, should Newsom be removed.
Turnout is going to be key. From the New York Times: "The vote is expected to come down to whether Democrats can mobilize enough of the state's enormous base to counteract Republican enthusiasm for Mr. Newsom's ouster."
Regardless of how this turns out, California is one of 36 states with a regular gubernatorial election in 2022. If Newsom is removed and replaced by a Republican, that person will almost certainly be an underdog in the race for a full term.