5 things every voter should know about the California recall election

A poll worker peels off stickers to hand out to voters.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, September 13. I’m Justin Ray.

I have decided to dedicate this edition of the newsletter to helping voters figure out how to navigate the Sept. 14 California recall election. Here are the major things to know:

So about the ballot: What does “no” mean, and what is with the whole second question thing?

Election ballots can be confusing, but what you need to know is that the state is voting on whether to recall Newsom. Thus, a “yes” vote removes Newsom from office. A “no” vote keeps him in office.

The ballot includes a second question: If Newsom is recalled, who do you want to replace him? Voters can make their voice heard on both of the ballot’s questions — even if their preference is to retain Newsom as governor. This is important because should a majority of voters cast ballots to expel him, it could produce a new governor chosen by only a small fraction of the electorate.


Who is running against Newsom?

Though more than 70 candidates filed preliminary paperwork to run for governor, 46 will appear on the ballot. However, one of them — former Rep. Doug Ose — withdrew from the race in August after a heart attack. Five prominent Republicans are among the candidates who are still campaigning to replace Newsom. For more info on the candidates, we looked through their tax returns.

Who is Larry Elder?

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder has emerged as the Republican front-runner. He has been a fixture on conservative media for decades, appearing on KABC radio and, more recently, Fox News. He grew up in South Los Angeles. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Michigan Law School, Elder loves to debate issues. But his extreme views on issues like COVID-19 mandates, the minimum wage and climate change have made him a highly controversial candidate.

Why are we in this situation in the first place?

Well, that’s complicated. A poll suggests that Newsom’s early response to the pandemic did not damage his approval ratings among registered voters. But it has since dropped due to COVID fatigue, the state’s inconsistent pandemic response and, of course, the French Laundry incident. But what doesn’t get enough attention is that a judge gave recall organizers four extra months to collect the necessary 1.5 million signatures, a major factor in facilitating this election.

What happens if Newsom is recalled?

The new governor would be sworn in once California Secretary of State Shirley Weber certifies the election results, which she must do within eight days of the counties finishing their official tallies. So if the recall is successful, the new governor would likely be sworn in about a week before Halloween, and not too long after Newsom’s 54th birthday.


Those are the basics, but I’m pretty confident that if you have any lingering questions, we have answered them in our voter guide. Seriously, it’s pretty comprehensive.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Most Asian Americans are against the recall, but some haven’t forgiven Newsom for his nail salon remark. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said community spread of coronavirus in California started at a nail salon. While Asian Americans have increasingly gravitated toward the Democratic party, the community is not a monolith. Many Vietnamese immigrants are vehemently anti-communist, which often translates into support for the Republican Party. Add to that the plight of business owners during the pandemic and Newsom’s nail salon remark, which was not backed by evidence, the Asian American pro-recall contingent is passionate. At a small rally organized by Vietnamese recall proponents last month, manicurists demanded that Newsom be ousted for not publicly apologizing for the provocative remark. Los Angeles Times

Phuoc Dam, center, has owned a salon business for more than 20 years.
Phuoc Dam, center, is a business owner voting for the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


Major League Baseball and the players union agreed Friday to extend Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer’s paid leave from the team through the end of the season. Bauer has not pitched for the Dodgers since June 28, the day before a woman accused him of sexual assault and obtained a temporary restraining order against him. Bauer has denied the allegations. Christine Pelosi, a director of the San Francisco Giants’ foundation and daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), criticized the agents of Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer on Friday, calling their comments on Bauer’s administrative leave “disingenuous.” Los Angeles Times

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The recall election is a serious matter for California’s communities of color that have successfully advanced protections for immigrants, fought for eviction protections during the COVID pandemic and supported Newsom’s health protection measures: “What’s at stake are two Californias, whether we make strides on gains we have attained so far or are driven back,” says one community organizer. But in low-turnout communities, confusion about the process can work to inhibit voter participation. Capital and Main

Barbara Boxer on abortion and Dianne Feinstein. Boxer, California’s unreservedly liberal former U.S. senator, said of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow a Texas anti-abortion law to stand: “This is turning over women’s rights to vigilantes, hateful vigilantes, on a mission to destroy women who believe they have a right to privacy and a right to make their own decision.” Dianne Feinstein, 88, continues to serve as a senator after being reelected in 2018 to her fifth full term — to the great consternation of some Democrats who wish she would step aside. When asked about her, Boxer said: “If Sen. Feinstein were to call me today and asked my advice, I would say only you can decide this. But from my perspective, I want you to know I’ve had very productive years away from the Senate doing good things. So put that into the equation.” Los Angeles Times


How a massive punk show gone wrong harmed a West Oakland homeless community. On June 26, a massive crowd of Oakland concertgoers converged on an area under freeway bridges for an outdoor music event. The attendees lit fires, set off fireworks and caused destruction to property in the area; videos showing the damage were seen on social media days after the event. The destruction was particularly harmful to the unhoused people who inhabit the area that had to deal with the aftermath. The debacle has sparked conversations about accountability and solidarity. Oaklandside

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San Diego police union pushing back on vaccine mandate. About 9 out of 10 members of the San Diego Police Officers Assn. who responded to a recent survey oppose COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and about 45% of them say they would rather be fired than comply, the head of the union said. According to city data released in August, about 50% of San Diego Police Department officers have been vaccinated , as opposed to 65% of the city’s 11,360-employee workforce. “It’s a hot topic amongst our membership,” said Det. Jack Schaeffer, president of the Police Officers Assn. Fox 5 San Diego

Relatedly, Bakersfield Officer Scott Merritt died Friday of COVID-19 complications, the agency said. Merritt, 42, served 11 years in Kern County after his first assignment with the California Highway Patrol area office in Santa Cruz. He was an officer with CHP for nearly 16 years. In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom said: “It is with great sadness that Jennifer and I send our condolences to Officer Merritt’s family, friends and those who served with him.” KGET



Hollywood finally has its movie museum. Inside the dramatic journey and what’s at risk. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is set to open its doors Sept. 30. For an academy that has weathered the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and continues to wrestle with declining viewership for the Oscars telecast, the museum’s opening is not just a triumph of logistics but also a chance for the group to continue its attempts to celebrating the art form of cinema while acknowledging some of the industry’s failures. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the infighting, financial woes, ousted leaders and a racial reckoning. Los Angeles Times

Aerial photo of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.
Aerial photo of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.
(Academy Museum Foundation)

Average wait times at Disneyland, California Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood have dropped — dramatically for some rides — since the parks reopened from a pandemic closure, which lasted more than a year, according to a comparison by an outside firm. A combination of factors may be responsible, including the adoption of new reservation systems that give park operators greater control over daily attendance. Los Angeles Times

Press-on nails in the pandemic. One of my favorite podcasts is Rightnowish, in which host and lifelong Oakland resident Pendarvis Harshaw explores arts and culture in California. In this fan-favorite episode, Harshaw discusses Vivian’s Pamper Nail Gallery, which has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. The business’ owner, Vivian Xue Rahey, explains how she made a big change to an e-commerce model during the pandemic, taking orders for press-on sets that ship to your doorstep. KQED

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Los Angeles: Sunny, 87. San Diego: Save a cat! Sunny, 79. San Francisco: Clear skies, 70. San Jose: 82. Fresno: Stare at this pasta maker! 99. Sacramento: 95.


California birthdays:


Tyler Perry was born Sept. 13, 1969. Winfrey saw one of Perry’s early plays in Los Angeles before inviting him onto her talk show in 2001 and advised him to take control of his own empire. His self-ownership is one of the reasons Forbes cites when discussing the billionaire media mogul’s success.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, was born Sept. 15, 1984. During an appearance on Dax Shepard’s podcast “Armchair Expert” released this year, Harry said of being a royal: “I’ve seen behind the curtain, I’ve seen the business model; I know how this operation runs. ... I don’t want to be part of this.”

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