California Democrats Try to Change Recall Rules to Protect Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Democrats plan to change the rules of recall elections to protect incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom, just as they changed the rules to defend State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) during a recall election over gas tax hikes in 2018.

The Associated Press reported Monday:

Four years ago, California Democrats altered the state’s recall laws in part to slow down the process and try to aid a state senator facing a removal vote over his support for increasing the gas tax.

Now, as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall of his own, they’re trying to change the laws again. This time, though, Democrats want the option to speed things up to take advantage of what they see as favorable conditions for Newsom.

Newsom’s campaign hasn’t commented on the proposed altering of the recall timeline. Recent polls show Newsom in a stronger position than at the start of the year when the pandemic was raging and much of the economy was shuttered.

Now looking to speed the process, Democrats’ proposal would essentially bypass the legislative review process so long as lawmakers set aside money for counties to pay for the cost of the election. The state Department of Finance already sought a cost estimate from counties and lawmakers plan to approve $215 million to cover the local expense.

In 2017, Democrats changed the rules of recalls in an attempt to protect Newman, who was vulnerable because of his vote in favor of gas tax hikes, which were deeply unpopular in his district. Democrats voted to lift restrictions on campaign contributions from other elected officials, and slipped a bill to delay the recall into an unrelated budget vote.

Their efforts failed, when Newman was recalled by a wide margin and replaced by Republican Ling Ling Chang. He won his seat back in the 2020 election, however, thanks in part to stronger Democratic turnout for the presidential election.

State legislators are likely to vote on Democrats’ new recall rule changes on Monday. If signed into law, the changes could advance the recall vote to September, allowing Democrats to take advantage of Newsom’s rebound in the polls.

Republicans are virtually powerless to stop Democrats from changing the rules of the recall election midway through, aside from an appeal to state courts, since Democrats hold a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature.

Newsom faces a recall after only 43 signatures, out of over 2 million, had been withdrawn from recall petitions last week.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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