California on Thursday scheduled a Sept. 14 recall election that could drive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, the result of a political uprising largely driven by angst over state coronavirus orders that shuttered schools and businesses and upended life for millions of Californians.
The election in the nation’s most populous state will be a marquee contest with national implications, watched closely as a barometer of the public mood heading toward the 2022 elections, when a closely divided Congress again will be in play.
The date was set by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a Democrat, after election officials certified that enough valid petition signatures had been turned in to qualify the election for the ballot.
The announcement will set off a furious, 10-week burst of campaigning through the California summer, a time when voters typically are ignoring politics to enjoy vacationing, backyard barbecuing and travel.
Many voters have yet to pay attention to the emerging election, while polls have shown Newsom would beat back the effort to remove him. Republicans haven’t won a statewide race in heavily Democratic California since 2006.
In a recall election, voters would be asked two questions: First, should Newsom be removed, yes or no? The second question would be a list of replacement candidates to choose from, if a majority of voters cast ballots to remove Newsom.