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To keep Gov. Gavin Newsom or not to keep Gov. Newsom? That is the question. 

Upset by the progressive governor’s policies, his handling of the pandemic and his infamous maskless dinner at the French Laundry, about 12% of the number of Californians who voted in the last election for governor signed petitions to force a recall election. 

On Sept. 14, registered voters will decide if the governor holds onto his job or not. 

All active registered voters in California get their ballots in the mail about a month before the election.

The Newsom recall vote is a two-fer, asking voters:

  1. Should Newsom be removed?
  2. Who should replace him?

If you want Newsom to stay in office, vote no. 

If you want to remove Newsom, vote yes. 

Either way, you can vote for a candidate on the second question, or skip it. 

If more than half of voters opt to replace Newsom, whoever has the most votes among the replacement candidates will be sworn in as the new governor in late October — even if that person doesn’t get a majority, and even if that person gets fewer votes than those cast for Newsom on Question #1.

You can write in a name, but it will be counted only if it’s someone who filed by Aug. 31 to appear on the certified write-in list. 

So who’s running?

It’s a long list of 46 people, including some Trump-supporting Republicans and a few Democrats who have never held elected office. There are also celebrities, professors, a rapper and a pastor. Here are the top candidates:

  • Larry Elder, a Republican talk-show host from South Central Los Angeles
  • John Cox, a Republican businessman who lost to Newsom in 2018
  • Kevin Faulconer, the Republican former mayor of San Diego
  • Kevin Kiley, Republican assemblymember from Rocklin
  • Caitlyn Jenner, Republican, Olympian turned reality-television star
  • Kevin Paffrath, a Democrat YouTube star and real estate broker and investor from Ventura  

If Gov. Newsom were to be replaced, you could expect to vote again, soon. The regular election for governor is in 2022. Although theoretically, Democrats could begin the process to recall Newsom’s replacement long before that. 

As Shakespeare perhaps prophesied: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more?

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Byrhonda Lyons is a national award-winning investigative reporter for CalMatters. She writes and produces compelling stories about California’s court and criminal system. Her reporting has uncovered...