The day after convincingly defeating the effort to oust him from office, California Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared to voice support for an effort to make it harder for Golden Staters to recall elected officials.
“I think the recall process has been weaponized,” Newsom said Wednesday.
According to the latest unofficial results from election officials, roughly 64% of Californians voted no – meaning against removing Newsom from office – in Tuesday’s recall election, with just 36% casting ballots to oust the first-term Democratic governor. Newsom’s margin beat expectations, topping the final public opinion polls heading into the election, which suggested the governor would survive by a much smaller double-digit margin.
Democratic state lawmakers, who hold super majorities in both chambers of the California legislature, are already pushing to implement changes to make it harder to launch recalls in the future. Among the changes: upping the number of signatures needed to land a recall on the ballot, raising the standards of wrongdoings by elected officials to spur a recall, and changing the current process. Currently, the candidate who wins the most votes among the replacement candidates – no matter how small their total – becomes governor if the recall is successful.
The signatures of 1.5 million California voters – 12% of the total electorate who voted in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial election – were needed to land the recall on the ballot. That 12% threshold is far lower than in many of the other 18 states that allow for gubernatorial recalls.
One proposed amendment to the state constitution would have the lieutenant governor finish the term of a governor who is ousted from office through a recall.
But such efforts are facing pushback from organizers of the recall.
“They’re working in opposition of the will of the people when they take action like that to limit our ability to self-govern,” said Orrin Heatlie, chief proponent of the recall effort, told the AP.
A poll conducted in June by the Public Policy Institute of California indicated that 86% of California likely voters approved of having a way to recall elected officials. But the survey indicated that two-thirds of likely voters also supported major or minor changes, with a large partisan divide over the extent of the changes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.