California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, is now almost certain to face a recall election later this year.
According to figures released Monday by California’s secretary of state, election officials have verified 1.63 million signatures on the recall petition, well above the 1.496 million threshold to place a recall on the ballot.
Mr. Newsom has been under fire from conservatives for closing large segments of the state’s economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Democrat acknowledged last month that recall proponents will likely succeed in forcing a vote to remove him.
A spokesman for the governor didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
With a recall election almost certain to happen this year, candidates are lining up to replace Mr. Newsom, who was elected in 2018.
On Friday, transgender-rights activist and Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner entered the race as a Republican. Ms. Jenner, who has never before run for public office, criticized the governor’s lockdown orders during the pandemic in a statement and called herself “a proven winner and the only outsider who can put an end to Gavin Newsom’s disastrous time as governor.”
Asked for comment on Monday’s signature total, a political consultant for Mr. Newsom forwarded a statement from a group called Stop the Republican Recall that said, “The Republican recall—backed by partisan, pro-Trump, and far-right forces—threatens our values as Californians and seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made under Governor Newsom.” Supporters and opponents in Democrat-dominated California have previously sparred over whether the recall is a partisan effort.
Other Republicans running include former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, former GOP congressman Doug Ose and businessman John Cox, who lost to Mr. Newsom by more than 20 points in 2018, or about 3 million votes out of nearly 12.5 million cast.
National Republican groups and the state GOP have so far focused their firepower on recalling Mr. Newsom and haven’t coalesced around a replacement candidate.
It could be months before state officials certify that a recall has been triggered and set a date for the election. Voters who signed will first be given an opportunity to remove their names from the petition before election officials make an official declaration, but most veterans of state politics agree the election likely will happen this fall.
If the effort advances, California voters would decide two questions: whether Mr. Newsom should be removed and, if a majority agree, who should replace him.
The only previous gubernatorial recall election was in 2003, when Democrat Gray Davis was replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Davis’s approval rating at the time was around 26%, while Mr. Newsom’s most recent approval was 53%, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released late last month.
—Alejandro Lazo contributed to this article.
Write to Christine Mai-Duc at email@example.com
Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8