On Monday, Democrat legislators who dominate the California legislature passed a bill, SB 152, that will allow them to move up the recall election of Democrat governor Gavin Newsom, galvanizing GOP legislators who accused Newsom of cheating in order to ensure the recall effort fails. Newsom signed the bill on Monday.
Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley stated, “The conclusion is inescapable that Gavin Newsom is cheating in the recall and this Legislature is his willing accomplice.” GOP Assemblyman Vince Fong echoed, “It is an attempt to put a thumb on the scale, to try to obtain a partisan outcome for one side.”
University of California, Berkeley, political science professor Jack Citrin added, “They’re trying to create a situation that is most favorable for the partisan outcome that they favor,” KESQ noted.
The Democrats’ move would permit the recall election to take “at least 30 days earlier than under existing state law. Democrats hope to take advantage of what they view as favorable conditions for Newsom as the state moves on from the worst days of the pandemic and related restrictions,” the Associated Press (AP) reported, adding, “Recall organizers collected 1.7 million signatures in support of recalling Newsom, and he’ll face an election later this year. Without the recall, he’d next face voters in 2022 for a regularly scheduled reelection”.
The bill allows Democrats to circumvent the legislative review process if legislators target funds for counties to pay for the cost of the election. “The state Department of Finance already sought a cost estimate from counties and lawmakers plan to approve $215 million to cover the local expense,” AP noted.
Joshua Spivak, who supervises the Recall Elections Blog, told AP that normally when recalls alter election laws it occurs after the election.
In 2017, California Democrats changed the recall rules in order to protect State Sen. Josh Newman from a recall effort. But Newman was not involved in the effort, Kiley noted, charging, “That bare minimum level of decency, exhibited by Senator Josh Newman is way too much to ask of Governor Gavin Newsom, We have the unprecedented circumstance where Gov. Gavin Newsom, with the stroke of a pen, will be changing California law in order to try to beat back his own recall,” The Sacramento Bee reported.
“Nathan Click, a spokesman for Newsom’s campaign, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment about whether the campaign had communicated with Democratic lawmakers about the recall timing,” AP wrote.
SB 152 states:
Existing law requires the Department of Finance to estimate the costs of a recall election upon notification from the Secretary of State that voters have signed a recall petition in sufficient numbers to initiate a recall election. Existing law requires the Department of Finance to submit the cost estimate to the Governor, the Secretary of State, and the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee within 30 days of receiving that notice. Existing law prohibits the Secretary of State from certifying the sufficiency of the signatures until the Joint Legislative Budget Committee has had 30 days to review and comment on the Department of Finance’s cost estimate.
This bill would allow the Secretary of State to certify the sufficiency of the signatures before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee has had 30 days to review and comment on the estimate if the Legislature has appropriated funds it determines are reasonably necessary to conduct the recall election and has designated funds for that purpose in the Budget Act or another statute.