Vice President Kamala Harris will put in a good word for California Gov. Gavin Newsom later this month as Golden State voters grapple with whether to recall their state’s chief executive.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Harris will join Newsom at a rally in the Bay Area on Aug. 27 to encourage Californians to vote “no” on Sept. 14 election — in the state’s second recall election in fewer than 20 years.
“I am excited to join my friend and our vice president next week,” Newsom said in a statement. “The stakes of this election couldn’t be higher.”
The intervention from Harris shows the extent of White House concerns about polls showing a close vote on the question of whether to keep or remove Newsom, who was elected governor in 2018 after eight years as second-in-command under fellow Democrat Jerry Brown.
Last week, President Biden issued a statement urging Californians to stand by Newsom, saying the governor had been “a key partner in fighting the pandemic and delivering economic relief to working families and helping us build our economy back better than ever … He knows how to get the job done because he’s been doing it.”
An average of polls published since July 14 by the website FiveThirtyEight showed that support for keeping Newsom as governor was just 1.2 percentage points ahead of the support for ousting him.
Under California law, voters who take part in the recall election will first be asked if Newsom should be recalled. If a simple majority votes “yes,” Newsom will become the second California governor to be removed from office midway through his term by the electorate — joining fellow Democrat Gray Davis, who achieved the dubious distinction in 2003.
Voters will then be asked to chose from a list of 46 potential candidates to replace Newsom — nine Democrats, 24 Republicans, two members of the Green Party, a Libertarian and 10 other fringe candidates. If Newsom is recalled, the candidate on the list with the most votes will become California’s next governor — no majority necessary.
No Democratic office-holders have put their names forward to succeed Newsom should he be recalled. The list of Republican candidates includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Newsom’s defeated 2018 opponent John Cox and state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley — as well as talk radio host Larry Elder and Olympic gold medalist-turned-reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.
Newsom and Harris have deep Bay Area roots (he’s from San Francisco, she’s from Oakland) and have enjoyed simultaneous rises in California Democratic politics. Harris was elected San Francisco District Attorney in 2003, the same year Newsom won the first of his two terms as the city’s mayor. In 2010, when Newsom was elected lieutenant governor, Harris was elected to be state attorney general — a post she left after winning a Senate seat in 2016.
Next week’s rally will take place as Harris makes her way back to Washington from Singapore and Vietnam, her second overseas trip as vice president.