Gavin Newsom Faces Recall Election as Campaign Collects 1,509,000 Signatures

An effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom has reached the minimum number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election, organizers behind the recall campaign announced Friday.

Recall Gavin Newsom launched last year and amassed more than 900,000 signatures by the end of December. The recall campaign said it collected more than 1.4 million signatures by early February and gathered a total of 1,509,000 signatures by Friday.

State law dictates that a recall campaign must gather support from a specific number of registered voters in order to trigger a recall. In this case, valid signatures from 1,495,709 California voters—a number equivalent to 12 percent of the votes cast in the election Newsom won to become governor—from at least five counties needed to sign the petition by the campaign's March deadline.

Once the California secretary of state determines that the campaign has collected enough valid signatures, a recall election will be scheduled to allow voters to decide if they want Newsom to stay in office or not.

Recall Gavin Newsom set a goal of collecting 1.8 million signatures in anticipation that some might not pass muster with the secretary of state's office.

Governor Gavin Newsom recall campaign
An effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom gained steam in early 2021. In the photo above, Newsom addresses a press conference held at the launch of mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on January 15 in Los Angeles. IRFAN KHAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

This is not the first recall campaign Newsom has faced since he was elected governor with nearly 62 percent of the vote in 2018, but it is the campaign that has gained the most traction. The effort is fueled in part by frustrations surrounding restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers also cite as reasons for their efforts the Democratic governor's positions on issues that predate COVID-19, including gun laws and immigration policies.

The organizers say on the campaign's website that the effort is not driven by any one political party, and they have bristled at allegations that supporters of the movement have links to QAnon and other far-right groups. Instead, organizers say the movement is supported by voters of diverse political backgrounds and represents a "mass uprising" in California.

Randy Economy, a senior adviser for the campaign, told Newsweek in December that this recall effort is notable to him because it has support from Californians who don't typically get involved in politics.

The recall campaign is "kind of a perfect tidal wave of citizens who have never done anything in politics before—ever, and I really do mean that—who decided they want to take a stab at this," Economy told Newsweek at the time. A significant component to the campaign's success is the frustrations voters feel after months of living with the pandemic and the restrictions introduced at the state level, he said. Newsom's attendance at a dinner party at the French Laundry last November, which violated the state's recommendations for gathering with individuals outside of one's household, only served to inflame those already frustrated with the lockdowns.

On the final day of 2020, Economy told Newsweek that he believed this recall campaign would be successful. "I think this is different this time," he said. "Sometimes in politics and in life, you have that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the average resident to make a difference. This is that moment in California history."

Economy told KTTV on Thursday that the recall campaign was close to reaching 1.5 million signatures. The effort was further aided by the national GOP, which invested $250,000 to help remove Newsom from office.

Ten recall campaigns have qualified for a recall election in California since 1913, only six of which have resulted in the targeted official being removed from office, according to the California secretary of state's website. The only California governor to be successfully recalled was Gray Davis, a Democrat who was removed in 2003 and replaced by former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Davis told Newsweek last month that he believes Newsom will win re-election in 2022.

Newsweek reached out to Newsom's office for comment and will update this article with any response.