Source: Jeffrey Cawood

On Thursday, California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis set the date for a special recall election targeting Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom for September 14.

“Although the window of time from which I could select a date was narrow, I believe we have chosen a fair and reasonable date for this election to take place,” Kounalakis, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It has always been my intention  to choose an election date that gives election officials and the public ample time to ensure a smooth election with broad participation.”

The announcement comes after Democrats who dominate the California Legislature passed a bill that allowed them to move up the date, galvanizing Republicans who accused Newsom of cheating to ensure the recall effort fails. Newsom signed the bill on Monday.

“It is not hyperbole to say this is qualitatively the same thing that happens in corrupt sham democracies the world over,” said Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley while debating the bill. “Those in power use their power to make sure they don’t lose their power.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, “The tight election timetable gives prospective candidates just over two weeks to decide whether to jump into an expected frenzied race to replace Newsom, though a cadre of notable Republicans launched unofficial campaigns months ago with promises of loosening the Democrats’ ironclad grip on California’s state government.”

Voters will be asked two questions on the ballot. First, they will decide whether Newsom should be removed from office. Second, if a majority opts to recall the governor, voters would then select his replacement from a list of candidates.

At this time, no prominent California Democrats have announced an intention to enter the race.

A recent poll shows former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessman John Cox are the leading Republican candidates, followed by former Northern California Rep. Doug Ose. Cox lost to Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial race. Former Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner had just 6% support from Californians who took part in the survey. Conservative talk show host Larry Elder issued a statement on Wednesday night saying he was considering entering the GOP field.

The Associated Press reported:

Republican candidates have depicted Newsom as an incompetent fop whose bungled leadership inflicted unnecessary financial pain statewide, while Democrats have sought to frame the contest as driven by far-right extremists and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Newsom’s campaign issued a statement describing the election “a naked attempt by Trump Republicans to grab control in California.” It called on his supporters to “defend our state.” Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego mayor and one of the leading Republican candidates, predicted that “retirement is coming for Gavin Newsom.”

While the final date wasn’t set until Thursday, the campaign has been underway for months after it became clear that recall organizers had gathered more than enough of the required 1.5 million petition signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot.

According to the final estimate from the state Finance Department, the recall election is expected to cost taxpayers $276 million.

In 2003, Democratic Governor Gray Davis became the first and only California governor recalled from office. He was replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood actor who had never held public office. Schwarzenegger was re-elected in 2006.