California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom will officially face a recall election this year after petitioners collected enough signatures to force the issue.
California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber announced on Wednesday that only 43 signatures had been withdrawn statewide from petitions calling for the recall and that the remaining 1,719,900 verified signatures met the threshold to initiate a recall election.
Newsom has faced intense criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his flouting of his own lockdown rules. The state is often criticized for having a large homeless population, “unreasonable draconian lockdown measures,” high taxes, and being one of the least free states in the nation.
“It will be only the second time in California’s history that a campaign to recall a governor has made the ballot out of 55 attempts,” Bloomberg News reported. “In 2003, Gray Davis was removed and replaced by Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.”
Weber sent a letter to Department of Finance Director Keely Martin Bosler informing her that the recall election had officially been triggered.
“The Department of Finance, in consultation with county elections officials and the Secretary of State, must estimate the costs of the recall election and submit the estimate to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, and the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee by August 5, 2021,” the letter stated. “The Department of Finance’s estimates must include the costs that would be incurred if the recall election is held as a special election and if it is consolidated with the next regularly scheduled election, and must include expenses for verifying signatures, printing ballots and voter information guides, and operating polling places. As required by law, the Department of Finance’s estimate of recall costs must be posted on the Secretary of State’s website and printed in the state voter information guide.”
The news comes as an investigation published by CapRadio News on Wednesday stated that Newsom significantly exaggerated his efforts to combat the state’s wildfire problem.
The report said:
An investigation from CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom found the governor has misrepresented his accomplishments and even disinvested in wildfire prevention. The investigation found Newsom overstated, by an astounding 690%, the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns in the very forestry projects he said needed to be prioritized to protect the state’s most vulnerable communities. Newsom has claimed that 35 “priority projects” carried out as a result of his executive order resulted in fire prevention work on 90,000 acres. But the state’s own data show the actual number is 11,399.
Overall, California’s response has faltered under Newsom. After an initial jump during his first year in office, data obtained by CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom show Cal Fire’s fuel reduction output dropped by half in 2020, to levels below Gov. Jerry Brown’s final year in office. At the same time, Newsom slashed roughly $150 million from Cal Fire’s wildfire prevention budget. In 2020, 4.3 million acres burned, the most in California’s recorded history. That was more than double the previous record, set in 2018, when the Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise, killing 85 people.
This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.