California, national right wingers push Newsom recall drive
Sean Hannity of Fox News is a leading right wing extremist pushing to unseat Gov. Newsome of California. In California the only way the right wing can seize control of the governor's office is through a recall election that excludes the vast majority of California voters. | Julie Jacobson/AP

Republicans in California, with substantial money from in-state and out-of-state sources, have succeeded in getting a special election scheduled for Sept. 14, in which they attempt a recall of the Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The recall is spearheaded by the most reactionary sectors of the ruling class-supporting fascist Trump elements in the Republican Party.

If the recall is successful, it’s likely a right-wing Republican would immediately become governor and would immediately work to sabotage the largest and most progressive state budget in national history, along with other progressive legislation and policies.

The recall draws its support from the most-reactionary forces of the ruling class aimed against Newsom. The nation’s eyes are focused on California, arguably the biggest stronghold of democratic forces nationwide. Increasing ground efforts for voter registration, education and turnout will be crucial in defeating the Republican effort to turn the California governor’s mansion into a nest of Trump vipers.

Even if the recall fails and the Newsom administration stays in power, this right-wing offensive will be a springboard for far-right forces to strengthen their concentrations in California towns and communities, and to continue further promoting their neo-Nazi agenda.  If, however unlikely, the recall passes and a reactionary becomes governor, it would have a catastrophic impact on the alignment of working-class forces, both in the state and in the nation.

How would this happen? In California the recall ballot has two questions:

  1. Should the current governor be removed from office?
  2. Who should be elected to replace that governor?

There are more than 40 candidates on this recall ballot. The majority and best known among them are Republicans. There are also eight little-known Democrats, nine independents, two Green Party members and a Libertarian. Therefore, the odds are the victor would have a plurality of less than one-third of those who vote in the recall, a number likely to be a smaller fraction of eligible voters in the state. Republicans do best in small voter turnouts.

Recalls of governors almost never happen. Only 18 states allow them. It takes a sizeable portion of ballot petition signatories to qualify such an election for the ballot. In California, it takes at least 1.5 million valid voter signatures. Such efforts require epic amounts of money.

The timing of the official recall petition came after the failure of five or more recall drives against Newsom, some of which failed to meet state requirements for ballot status. Petitioners started gathering signatures for this recall effort shortly after GOP Oval Office occupant Donald Trump won the presidential nomination at the 2020 Republican national convention.

The signature gathering for this petition was part of the Republican Party’s voter mobilization in California leading up to the November 2020 presidential election, and it picked up steam again a few short hours after Trump’s loss to Democratic nominee Joe Biden that month.

The Newsom recall was a key mobilizer for the extreme right-wing base in the early fall of 2020, shortly after which national funds began flowing in to California to bolster support for it. After Biden’s win, the recall provided yet another ideological lever for the Republicans to distract from the fact that Trump lost at the polls.

The recall petition was ratified on June 23, 2021–when the national Republican strategy was to rally behind the Senate Republican stonewalling of progressive Democratic lawmaking. Without the national reactionary support for the successful recall petition, it would not have qualified.

Rallying forces statewide and nationally against the recall and all its ramifications is an important part of repelling the reactionary offensive and strengthening the growing progressive working class and people’s movements this summer by trouncing the recall at the polls on Sept. 14.

Voter registration for the election ends on Aug. 30.  The Secretary of State’s office will mail ballots to all active voters no later than Aug. 16. Voters can cast their ballots by mail or drop box, or go to voting stations until Sept. 14. Candidates on the ballot are vying to replace Newsom and enact a Trumpian dystopia in California.

The Stop the Republican Recall, the official anti-recall effort, includes national and California state Democratic Party groups, organized labor, civil rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights groups, and business interests, like Silicon Valley, for example. The anti-recall effort has actively discouraged well known Democrats from running to replace Newsom. Through the end of July 2021, the anti-recall forces outraised the pro-recall forces many times over.

The official anti-recall forces of the Newsom administration and the Democratic-majority state legislature set an early election date, to deny Republicans an extended time for official campaigning.

But the abbreviated campaign period calls for an especially concerted effort to get out the vote.

There are a variety of tactical approaches to getting out the vote and winning public opinion against the recall, particularly showing how big Trump donor money got the recall onto the ballot and emphasizing the breakthroughs on progressive policies in this latest record budget that can lead to transformative reform. Creative messaging on such issues can stimulate interest among the grassroots and in communities and workplaces.

The odds are the recall will be defeated, though we cannot take this for granted. The right will still act to expand their base where they have some strength of support, and allow them to continue spreading their poison.

This can be overcome with an overwhelming defeat statewide. Such a defeat for the Republicans will resonate nationwide.


Rosalío Muñoz
Rosalío Muñoz

Rosalío Muñoz is a long-time activist and historian of Chicana/Chicano people’s history and culture and UCLA student activism. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Rosalío Muñoz es activista e historiador desde hace mucho tiempo de la historia y cultura de los chicanos/chicanos y del activismo estudiantil de UCLA. Vive en Los Ángeles, California.

Janice Rothstein
Janice Rothstein

Janice Rothstein is a retired nurse and long-time activist for people's justice. She has a lifelong itch for media, especially film, music, and literature.