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Potential Democrat candidates for California governor as recall election looms

With a recall election all but certain, speculation arises that California Democrats will have to decide whether they will run as a candidate on the chance Gov. Gavin Newson is recalled from office.

By Matthew Royer, Staff Writer

As the political challengers of Gov. Gavin Newsom unofficially reached the number of signatures needed to enact an election this fall, there is speculation that some California Democrats may run in an opportunity to replace him.

On March 19, an official update from the “Recall Newsom” committee revealed that the campaign had amassed a comfortable margin of signatures — over two million — all but confirming a recall election later this year. According to Politico, some time in the fall, voters will be asked two separate questions at the polls: should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him if the first vote is successful.

While the first question is straightforward, the latter creates a dilemma in which the California Democratic Party (CA DEM) will have to try to avoid the same problems caused by the recall election of Gov. Gray Davis.

In 2003, Davis was recalled by California voters. In the same election, Arnold Schwarzenegger was voted into the Governor’s Mansion as his replacement, with Davis’ Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante placing a not-so-close second.

Speculation has risen that some Democrats in the state will take the step to run in the recall election. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and businessman Tom Steyer have been mentioned as potential candidates by news organizations like New York Magazine.

Villaraigosa recently challenged Newsom in the 2018 primaries for governor, finishing in third behind businessman John Cox. Of late, Villaraigosa has made it important to note the differences between his and Newsom’s plans for education in the state, challenging his decisions on his Twitter.

“When we look back at the coronavirus pandemic decades from now, we may see the gravest catastrophe as a generation of schoolchildren whose formative years were irrevocably stunted,” wrote Villaraigosa. “We need to open up our schools now … the children can no longer wait.”

The former presidential hopeful, Steyer, last considered a run for governor for the 2018 election cycle but opted not to after the 2016 presidential election, according to KQED, a Bay Area NPR affiliate.

While he last ran for public office last year in the Democratic presidential primaries, Steyer recently polled his own name as a candidate in a potential recall election, according to Politico.

In a statement to Ashley Zavala from KTLA, Steyer did not respond to the reports of his polling but took the opportunity to discuss the recall.

“The recall efforts in California are a clear attempt by the GOP to take back control of the state and squelch the progressive momentum that swept through 2020 and will carry forward,” said Steyer. “That is why I oppose the recall.”

While Steyer is an ally of Newsom and serves on his economic task force as co-chair, Villaraigosa has detracted from Newsom more often than not.

According to Capital Public Radio at CSU Sacramento, an election will most likely occur between Nov. 15 and Dec. 5, as decided upon by Secretary of State Shirley Weber.


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