Why so many CA politicians are being targeted and what you can expect

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California has recall fever. More than 70 elected officials across the state have faced recall efforts since the start of this year, including Gov. Gavin Newsom. Petitions are currently circulating to oust three members of LA city council: Mike Bonin, Nithya Raman and Kevin de León. And some Californians have been pushing to impeach George Gascon as LA County District Attorney since he took office this year.

Why are so many politicians facing recall threats? KCRW gets political analysis and historical context from Fernando Guerra, professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University, Kathryn Olmsted, professor of history at UC Davis, Jan Perry, former member of the LA City Council, and the reporter Jon Regardie.

California’s new governor could get less than 50% of the vote

If the majority of voters choose to remove Governor Newsom, the candidate chosen as his successor could win with less than half of the vote.

It’s already arrived. California’s first-ever re-election was held in 2003 and saw Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. Even if 55.4% voted “yes” to recall Davis, Schwarzenegger won with only 48.6% of the vote.

“It’s very difficult for the candidate who wins this second question [on the ballot] to have a large majority of the votes, ”explains Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and director of the Center of the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. This is due to the number of candidates in the ring (45 candidates in 2021, plus scriptures).

Expect low turnout

Guerra says voter turnout in 2003 was 61%, which was high. He says that Schwarzenegger’s star power drove turnout more than today’s Republican candidates. “If this 2021 Newsom recall gets a 61% turnout, it will be easy for Newsom to push back this recall.”

Guerra says Latino voters tend to decide late, so Newsom should focus his attention on them. He notes that Latino voting decisions are influenced by civic organizations, community networks, the media and other Latino elected officials.

“The question for Newsom’s campaign is not ‘will he get a majority of Latino voters?’ I think that’s a given. The question is “can he get the turnout?” “

Three LA city council members targeted by recalls

Nithya Raman represents the Fourth District (central Los Angeles, south of the San Fernando Valley, and east of the Santa Monica Mountains) and was elected in 2020, and a petition is now underway to hold a recall election. This requires getting 24,405 signatures by November 4, says journalist Jon Regardie.

Mike Bonin represents the 11th arrondissement (Brentwood, Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey) and has served two full terms. Regardie says 27,317 signatures must be collected by Nov. 10 for him to face an election.

Kevin de León represents the 14th Borough (Downtown LA, Boyle Heights, Highland Park) and was elected in 2020. But the signature collection phase has yet to take place.

Regardie says, “What’s interesting is that you have two brand new council members and you also have some of the more progressive council members who are being targeted in these recall efforts.”

LA had the country’s first recall in 1904

LA was the first major city in the United States to adopt the recall. It was passed and approved by the city’s new charter in 1903. Angelenos first used the recall in 1904 to oust City Council member James Davenport

“It was the first city to adopt the recall and the first city to successfully use the recall,” said Kathryn Olmsted, professor of history at UC Davis and author of “Straight out of California: the 1930s and the corporate roots of modern conservatism. “

Over the next seven years, more than 20 other cities in the state adopted similar measures.

It’s easier than ever to vote

Many eligible California voters have already received their recall ballots in the mail, and those ballots must be returned and stamped by September 14 to be counted.

“There is no excuse not to vote,” says Perry. “I was thrilled when I mailed mine and then got the county text saying it had already entered the hopper and was connected. It was a safe process. And I think that’s something that needs to be highlighted. Vote by mail, send it in, put it in a mailbox, and you will receive an SMS knowing that your vote will be counted.


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