CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The nation’s most populous state, and arguably the country’s strongest Democratic stronghold, could be seven days away from a political earthquake.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is making his last pitch to voters that they should reject a Republican-led effort to oust him more than a year before his term is up. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigning for him are signs the threat to his term is real.
In California, a state where ballot initiatives thrive, many governors have faced recall drives under a century-old reform that created a mechanism for voters to remove them mid-term. But only one other effort tapped into enough frustration to make the ballot: Voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 over an energy crisis and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the last California Republican to win statewide.
Scott Walker is the most recent governor to survive a recall election. The former Wisconsin governor has advice for Newsom: “Don’t go to the French Laundry.”
That’s the high-end restaurant Newsom was photographed dining at last fall as he was telling Californians to stay home.
“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, the biggest Achilles’ heel anyone has in politics, particularly in a race like this, is hypocrisy,” Walker said Tuesday on “On Balance With Leland Vittert.”
Newsom eventually called the incident a “bad mistake.” But it provided the wind behind the sails of the recall effort in the spring.
If voters do remove Newsom, they would chose from a list of 46 replacement candidates — many of them unknown, but others with some recognition, including conservative talk show host Larry Elder and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner also is running but has failed to gain traction.
Initial polling had Newsom’s recall chances close to 50/50, but recent polls suggest Newsom has an 8-point lead.
Because so many people are running, the winner would likely become the next governor of the nation’s most populous state with 25% or less of the votes. That’s a far cry from the landslide that swept Newsom into office in 2018.
Still, Democrats hold supermajorities in the State House. Even Republicans like Walker are not convinced a Newsom recall would lead to monumental change.
“It certainly would shake things up in politics for the moment, but it would not dramatically change the policies that come out of Sacramento.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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