Newsom can call recall proponents ‘Republicans and Trump supporters,’ judge rules

Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 14 in Bell Gardens, Calif.
A Sacramento judge tentatively sided with Gov. Gavin Newsom, seen here on July 14 in Bell Gardens, Calif., in ruling that he can refer to recall backers as “Republicans and Trump supporters” in ballot language.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

A Sacramento judge tentatively decided Wednesday to reject a lawsuit by recall leaders challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s description of them as “Republicans and Trump supporters.”

“As persuasively demonstrated by Governor Newsom,” Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Laurie M. Earl wrote, “the recall effort was clearly spearheaded by Republicans.”

Recall leaders said in their lawsuit that Newsom’s arguments for the official voter information guide for the Sept. 14 election were false and misleading and should be stricken. They argued that many of their supporters were not Republicans.


“The Court has no doubt that not all recall supporters are Republicans,” wrote Earl, who was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “But the challenged arguments do not state or imply that they are.”

Newsom’s anti-recall allies have more money than all the GOP candidates combined.

Aug. 4, 2021

The lawsuit noted nearly half the candidates who want to replace Newsom are not Republican, a point that Earl said did not mean that Newsom’s arguments were inaccurate.

“The fact that some of the candidates running to replace Newsom are not Republican does not demonstrate that these statements are false or misleading in any way, much less that they are outright falsehoods or objectively untrue,” she wrote.

Opponents of Newsom gathered enough signatures to force the recall vote. A poll last month found that voters were almost evenly divided over whether to remove Newsom. Turnout is expected to be key.

Earl is expected to issue a final ruling after a hearing.

“Is referring to this election as a ‘Republican recall’ exaggerated?” she wrote. “Maybe. But the Court finds it is also the type of exaggeration that is common to political debate and that is thus permissible.”