President Joe Biden urged Californians on Thursday to vote against recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) as he and Vice President Kamala Harris plan to step up their efforts ahead of the state’s Sept. 14 special election.
Biden called Newsom a “key partner” in his agenda on fighting the coronavirus and bringing economic relief to families.
“He’s taking on the climate crisis and standing up for the rights of women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. He knows how to get the job done because he’s been doing it. And to keep him on the job, registered California voters should vote no on the recall election by September 14 and keep California moving forward,” Biden said.
Harris ― who previously served as a senator from California ― and Biden plan to take an “active role” in the next month to help Newsom stay in office, according to a source familiar with their planning.
That involvement could include in-person events, work on social media and get-out-the-vote support.
Recall elections like this one are rare; in fact, this is only the fifth time in U.S. history that a gubernatorial recall effort has qualified for the ballot.
Voters in California will receive their Sept. 14 ballot by mail this month. They’ll be asked two questions: Do they want to recall Newsom? And if he is recalled, who do they want to replace him?
If a majority of voters back recalling Newsom, whoever has the most votes will replace him ― no matter how small that number may be.
With more than 40 candidates vying to become the next governor, there’s a chance that a person replacing Newsom could receive far fewer votes than he does yet still get to become governor.
Democrats have been worried that voter apathy could lead to Newsom’s downfall, so high-profile involvement from Biden and Harris could help draw more attention to the race. Several polls have found recall supporters to be more engaged.
Right now the front-runner to replace Newsom is Larry Elder, a conservative talk radio host who has promoted vaccine conspiracies and touted the endorsement of an accused Jan. 6 rioter at the U.S. Capitol.
The race has huge stakes for national politics and Biden’s agenda. Democrats have just a one-vote majority in the Senate, and the governor of California has the ability to appoint a senator should there be a vacancy. There has been significant focus on the seat of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), 88, should she retire early or be unable to serve out her term. If a Republican becomes governor and gets to appoint a senator, it would tip the balance of the Senate.