Winner Takes All: California Recall Explained

For the second time in California history, the state’s governor is facing a recall. On Tuesday, voters will decide whether Gov. Gavin Newsom will stay in office. If a majority votes “yes” to oust him, California will have a new governor.

There are 46 candidates on the ballot, including radio talk show host Larry Elder, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner. The special election was triggered after more than 1.5 million people signed the recall petition, which began circulating last year during the pandemic.

Opponents of Gov. Newsom have criticized his administration’s COVID-19 restrictions and made that a focal point of the recall. If he is recalled, Newsom would be the third governor in U.S. history to be removed from office in this manner.

This has happened before in California. In 2003, voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger won the special election and became the 38th governor of California. Schwarzenegger went on to win reelection in 2006, making him the last Republican to win a statewide election.

Californians will vote on two questions: Should Newsom be removed and if so, who should replace him? About 22 million ballots have gone out to registered voters. If a majority votes to remove Newsom, whichever candidate captures the most votes will become the next governor of California.

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