Polling stations are closed in California, where voters decide to impeach Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. The first returns are expected soon.
If a majority of voters vote “yes” on the reminder, he will be removed from his post and the best voter on the second question of the ballot – on who should replace Newsom – will take over.
The effort to oust Newsom, who was elected in 2018, was launched last year by conservative Californians critical of the governor’s record on several issues. The effort gained momentum after criticism of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic.
Newsom was the first governor to implement a stay-at-home order as the coronavirus spread relentlessly, a decision later repeated in many other states. As the pandemic-induced restrictions implemented to quell the spread of the virus focused on frustrated residents, the recall movement gathered pace when Newsom visited Napa’s upscale French Laundry restaurant for a birthday party, a decision he later called “a mistake”.
Tory radio show host Larry Elder, Newsom’s main challenger, has campaigned on what he called Newsom’s “dismal failure” in handling the Covid-19 crisis, and believes strong representation of voters in person will lead him to victory. Elder is one of 46 candidates vying to replace Newsom, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and the man Newsom defeated in the 2018 election, John Cox.
There have been numerous attempts to recall governors throughout California’s political history, but this move has only been successful once. In 2003, Democratic Governor Gray Davis was removed from office and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If Newsom retains his position as the leader of the country’s most populous state, he will face a re-election contest next year.
The recall election is expected to cost California more than $ 270 million.