Can Kevin Faulconer replace Gavin Newsom?
There is an effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom in California. Over 1.2 million California voters have signed the petition to recall Newsom and, with about 5 weeks left to turn in the recall petitions, some 200, 000 signatures are needed. Democratic consultants believe that the recall threat is real but that Newsom would most likely survive if a recall election is held.
Two questions would appear on the ballot: one asking if Newsom should be recalled and one on a slate of potential replacements if the recall passes. If successful, it would be the second recall election for the governor of California in the state’s history. The first was in 2003, when Democratic Governor Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. California Democrats anticipate the recall will make it onto the ballot but are confident Newsom would survive a special election.
It’s an uphill battle for any challenger because, while Newson’s approval numbers are much lower than they were in the beginning of 2020, Newsom is twice as popular as former Governor Gray Davis, the only other Governor who lost a recall election. More importantly, it is likely that no Democrats would challenge the sitting Governor and highly likely that a slew of Republican candidate would be on the ballot as a potential replacement. Among those Republicans are:
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Faulconer announced his candidacy yesterday.
Former Gubernatorial candidate John Cox
Former Trump Administration Cabinet member and Ambassador, Ric Grenell is making the rounds on television.
Pasadena businessman Major Williams, has a campaign site established and is giving interviews on television.
All four are formidable candidates. Major Williams may have problems with fundraising because of low name recognition. Cox raised $11 million from donors and plunked $6 million of his own money into the 2018 bid. Grenell has never run for public office but his credentials are appealing. Faulconer has already raised over $1 million and had, what is considered by most San Diegans to be a successful tenure as Mayor of San Diego, even with a hostile City Council.
But Faulconer shows up with baggage, too. A political action committee, founded and championed by talk-show host Carl DeMaio is attacking Faulconer from the right. Democrats will likely attack Faulconer because he revealed that, after rejecting President Trump in 2016, he voted for his re-election in 2020; the former President is unpopular in California.
That “Trump tag” will follow Grenell which is a shame. Grenell was the first-ever openly gay cabinet member and is a warrior for limited government, low taxation, and personal freedom. He would make a great Governor.
Cox was endorsed by President Trump in 2018 and he lost by 25 points to Newsom. He has an uphill climb to close that gap in a head-to-head run-off.
The biggest threat to recalling Newsom is a crowded Republican field. As likely as it is for Newsom to be recalled, it is more likely that Newsom wins a plurality of the vote to replace him. If Republicans can’t unify behind one candidate, it is unlikely that any of them will win more than 35% of the vote– that should be low enough for for Newsom to win the election to replace himself.
DISCLOSURE: The author has donated to the Faulconer for Governor campaign