Gavin Newsom Edges Toward Recall as Officials Accept More Than 80 Percent of Signatures

Political opponents of California Governor Gavin Newsom are celebrating as state officials have accepted more than 80 percent of signatures in support of a recall election.

More than 668,000 signatures have been accepted by California Secretary of State Shirley Weber as valid in the latest recall campaign aimed at unseating Newsom. Under California state law, 1,495,709 valid signatures are required by March 17 in order to get the recall on the ballot. That number makes up 12 percent of the 12,464,235 votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election and is being closed in on by the nearly 1.1 million signatures that have already been submitted as of February 5, the Los Angeles Times reports. More than 296,000 of the 1.1 million turned in simply haven't been reviewed by election officials across the state's 58 counties.

Compared to past California recall efforts where signature verification only hovered between 40 and 60 percent, this latest recall effort has seen election officials verifying more than 80 percent of the submitted signatures. At least 130,108 signatures have been deemed invalid during the review process.

There have been 55 attempts in California history to recall a governor, but the only successful one was Gray Davis in 2003.

A key factor in favor of recall supporters is the relatively low rate of rejected signatures compared to previous attempts. Only about 16 percent of those that have been checked for accuracy were rejected, at least half as many rejections as were recorded in previous ballot measure campaigns.

Almost 1.1 million signatures have been submitted in support of recalling Newsom, but opposition leaders say they have collected far more than 1.5 million in order to ensure the verified signature count stays above the 1.49 million minimum threshold. At least three recall attempts were unsuccessfully filed in 2019.

A potential recall election would involve two questions. The first asks whether Newsom should be recalled from office and the second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote would be required on the first question in order for the governor to be recalled. But the candidate with the most votes on the latter question would win the election with no majority required.

At least two prominent Republicans, including businessman John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, say they will run for governor should the recall effort qualify to be on the next ballot.

According to the California secretary of state's office, there were three unsuccessful bids to recall Newsom in 2020 alone. Two of those filings were led by Orrin E. Heatlie, a former member of the Yolo County Sheriff's Office and community activist who is once again promoting this effort to recall Newsom.

"We've crossed some big hurdles," said Heatlie. "We aren't stopping."

Newsweek reached out to Newsom's office and the secretary of state office in Sacramento for additional remarks Saturday morning.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
An effort to oust California Governor Gavin Newsom is gaining steam as officials accept more than 80 percent of signatures in support of a recall election. Above, Newsom takes off his mask before speaking to reporters on February 8 in San Diego. Sandy Huffaker-Pool/AFP via Getty Images