California voted against removing Gov. Gavin Newsom from office on Sept. 14, after a 19-month recall effort.
A petition to recall the 40th governor of California, began circulating throughout the state in February 2020.
The petition collected enough signatures to trigger a recall election three years into Newsom’s four-year term.
There were 46 candidates running in the election, 24 of whom were Republican, the opposing party of both Newsom and the state. Notable candidates included Caitlyn Jenner from E!’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and front-runner Larry Elder, a conservative former talk radio host.
Dr. Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science, explained that recall petitions in the state of California are rare and that those petitions succeeding are even rarer.
“According to the Secretary of State, since 1913, there have been 179 ballot drives to recall a state official — 11 of which gained enough signatures to force a recall election,” Porter said. “This is only the second time that there has been a recall election for governor; the first time was the successful recall of Gray Davis in 2003.”
The petition listed several reasons for the request to recall Newsom, including immigration laws, high taxes and homelessness rates, rationing water use, the legality of the death penalty, restricting parental rights and more.
Daniel Fournier, freshman psychology major, credited the passing of the petition to Newsom’s COVID-19 protocols. He stated that not only were people unhappy with his regulations, but they were also unhappy with his inconsistency throughout the pandemic.
“The thing that made me more aware of (the petition) was back during the early stages of the pandemic when I started seeing these news articles about Newsom having a brunch for a fundraiser event with 22 people,” Fournier said. “This was directly after mask mandates and social distancing were implemented, and then all of a sudden there is an inconsistency with what he is doing and with what he is saying.”
Lana Sabbara, senior psychology major, agreed with these inconsistencies but she said she did not think Newsom was entirely to blame throughout the process.
“I think that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) had a huge role because they did fluctuate on their rules and regulations,” Sabbara said. “As a governor, (Newsom) tried his hardest, but he dropped the ball as a whole in regards to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.”
Despite the debate over Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Porter said that the petition did not have any mention of the pandemic.
The petition was written prior to the start of the pandemic, but Newsom’s COVID-19 protocols led to the increase in signatures.
“The recall effort was initially caused by several points of ideological disagreement,” Porter said. “Governor Newsom’s response to COVID-19 has since driven much of the enthusiasm for the recall, especially among Republicans who have seen California’s response to the pandemic as too restrictive and Newsom’s approach as centering too much power in the office of the governor.”
Despite disappointment with Newsom’s politics, Sabbarra said she does not believe that this recall is the right time to make a change in governor.
“I really hope that (Newsom) is not recalled,” Sabbara said. “I believe that the Republican that is in the front, Larry Elder, would actually do a lot of harm to California in a lot of his policies and ideals, like abolishing the minimum wage.”
Newsom is up for the reelection of govenor in November 2022.