California’s Costly Recall Reveals a System in Need of Reform

Recall elections once served a noble purpose, but now they are just expensive boondoggles used for partisan gain.

On September 14, Californians will vote on whether to recall Governor Gavin Newsom, even though the state’s next regularly scheduled election is just 14 months away. Newsom isn’t widely unpopular. His approval rating today is higher than President Donald Trump’s was at its peak. Nor is Newsom under investigation for any crimes or ethics violations. Rather, he is being targeted by Republicans for his stances on issues ranging from immigration and tax increases to COVID-19 restrictions. While Newsom has certainly made mistakes in his pandemic response, including his infamous dinner at a luxurious Napa Valley restaurant, California has fared better than most states in cases and deaths per million residents.

Nonetheless, Newsom joins North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921, California’s Gray Davis in 2003, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker in 2012 to be the fourth governor in American history to face a recall vote. In the past 10 years, there have been at least 30 recalls against state legislators, mayors, and city or county council members.

If the Newsom recall fails, California will have spent $276 million to maintain the status quo. If the governor is recalled, he will likely be replaced by the Republican talk radio host Larry Elder, which would be a bizarre outcome since, according to recent polls, Elder is only half as popular as Newsom.

Regardless of its result, the costly and unnecessary recall should serve as a final warning…read more


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