Gavin Newsom first broke onto the scene in California politics as a young, charismatic Democrat in San Francisco where he served as mayor for seven years. Then as Democrats increased the size and scope of influence in the state of California, Newsom would go on to serve as the state’s Lieutenant Governor until 2019. Since 2019, Gavin Newsom has been serving as the 40th Governor of California. His future appeared bright, until the Covid-19 pandemic hit.  

The state of California has suffered immensely under the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic and the tactics used by Governor Newsom to address its spread. Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, California has suffered approximately 56,400 Covid-19 fatalities and millions of confirmed cases. This is despite having the strictest “lockdown” restrictions in the country.

For much of the last year, counties all over California have repeatedly locked down “unessential” business, closed schools to in-person learning, canceled children’s sports, and prevented houses of worship from meeting in person. They have shut off the utilities of lockdown “violators,” while turning a blind eye to celebrities partying the night away. The Governor’s Office even asked citizens to put their masks on and off between bites when eating out. Indeed, the leadership of Gavin Newsom has been absurd and ineffectual, and millions of Californians have had enough.

For those many Californians who believe Newsom has completely spiraled out of control, retired Law Enforcement Officer, Orrin Heatlie, of Folsom, California, is leading the charge to have him removed. Heatlie has been the lead advocate and organizer for the mission to have Governor Newsom recalled in the state of California. According to the New York Times, “For the recall to move forward, proponents must gather 1,495,809 valid signatures from registered voters by March 17 — enough to equal 12 percent of the votes cast in the most recent election for governor. Counties must then verify them by April 29.”

But Orrin Heatlie knew that it would be no easy task getting this process to the finish line. “Democrats have a supermajority here — it’s one-party rule.” But as the movement has continued to grind away at collecting the necessary number of signatures, the unlikely began to take shape and become a real possibility. By March 12th, Newsweek reported that the “Recall Gavin 2020” campaign “reached the 2 million signature mark, far surpassing the number it must collect ahead of its March 17 deadline.” Now, citizens and Governor Newsom alike, can only wait to see the results of the signature verification by state officials.

If the needed signatures are verified and a recall election is triggered, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis would be responsible for scheduling the new election, which would likely be held in the fall. As noted by Deadline, “If there is a recall election, it will most likely be in November and feature just two questions on the ballot: ‘Should Gavin Newsom be recalled?’ and another asking voters to choose a replacement.” There will be no limit on how many opponents can run, however, voters would be far more likely to actually replace Newsom if the choices are limited.

The developments around this recall movement over the last several weeks point to a sea change in how citizens are responding to their local governments in the age of Covid-19. The crisis presented by the virus has led to a drastic increase in executive powers assumed by governors around the country, and this recall effort represents the inevitable push back. However this situation plays out, one thing is for sure: in the words of Orrin Heatlie, “Politics as usual in California are over as we know it to be.”


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Image Credit: Photo Elizabeth Mcdaniel on Unsplash