If Democrat Gavin Newsom is replaced in California's September 14 recall elections, it will be the second such instance in the US state's history, and the third overall in the country. In 2003, another Democrat, Gray Davis, was recalled as the 37th Governor of California, just 10 months into his second term. Darrell Issa, a Republican who was rooting for Davis' removal, bankrolled the "Dump Davis" campaign for the 2003 California gubernatorial recall special election. In July 2003, following the required number of citizen signatures, Republican candidate and Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger was certified as the winner of the special election held on October 7.
Davis became the only second governor in US history to lose a recall election after North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier, who was recalled in wake of a state-owned industries' dispute in 1921. Only California's Bay Area and Los Angeles County regions voted "no" on Davis's recall.
What led to 2003 and 2021 California recall elections?
California is one of 19 states in US that allow recall elections after a recall petition is signed, within 160 days of its launch, by the equivalent of 12% of the electorate from the last election for governor. The signatures must be collected from at least five counties.
Opponents repeatedly cited Davis's handling of the budget crisis by reversing fee reductions on motor vehicles in the previous decade. The recall petition accused Davis of gross mismanagement of finances by "overspending taxpayers' money, threatening public safety by cutting funds to local governments, failing to account for the exorbitant cost of the energy fiasco, and failing in general to deal with the state's major problems until they get to the crisis stage."
In Newsmom's case, the recall election was ordered after his opponents launched a campaign over his dinner with 11 friends and lobbyists without masks at an expensive restaurant last November at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are 46 candidates in fray, including radio and TV host Larry Elder, who has alleged fraud in voting process. “There might very well be shenanigans, as there were in the 2020 election,” Elder said, after launching a “Stop CA Fraud” online form on Monday. Former US President Donald Trump, who led several attempts for Newsmom's recall during his tenure, also issued a statement saying, "Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn't rigged?"