California Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a Republican-backed recall election Tuesday with polls showing the Democrat has a double-digit lead to survive.

Newsom, 53, is less than three years removed from a landslide victory in the 2018 gubernatorial election. He has faced seven recall petitions, all backed by Republicans. Newsom has been backed by $70 million in campaign funds against the recall effort.

Republicans have taken exception to Newsom’s mask mandates, lockdowns, vaccine requirements, as well as the state’s homeless crisis. Newsom also drew criticism for not wearing a mask while dining with lobbyists at Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant and sending his children back to private school before public schools could open.

The recall ballot will feature two questions: should Newsom be removed, and who should replace him. If more than 50% vote yes on the first question, Newsom will lose his job and the candidate receiving a plurality of votes will become the new governor. The most likely candidate to do so would be conservative radio host Larry Elder. In a University of California Berkeley IGS poll, Elder received 38% of support from California Republicans in a field of 46 candidates.

Elder, 69, has promised to rescind the state’s current COVID policies. He has also pushed for right-wing measures on gun control, immigration, and abortion.

A win for Elder would greatly shake up the state of California, putting a Donald Trump-backed Republican in charge of a Democratic stronghold. An upset in one of the nation’s most liberal states "could also encourage recall elections potentially around the country,” Mindy Romero, head of the California Civic Engagement project, told the Guardian.

Elder has already asked voters to sign a petition "demanding” the California legislature investigate “the twisted results of the 2021 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom." The website is called Stop CA Fraud and is paid for by the Larry Elder Ballot Measure Committee, which has received major funding from Elder’s campaign. It falsely claims California election officials are "either through laziness or incompetence" allowing "thieves to steal amidst the dead of the night and cheat our ballot box," which in turn means Californians can "no longer rely on its contests."

Newsom has been on the campaign trail with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif.

The last time a California Republican won a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate election was in 2006, when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated Phil Angelides.


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