Why the Recall Vote Will Be on Sept. 14

Wednesday: Here’s what to know about the date of the special election that will allow voters to decide whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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Supporters of removing California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, in Carlsbad last week.Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

Good morning.

At first, political experts said that if it happened, a special election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom from office would happen later in the year — probably November? There was a complex, lengthy process that would have to take place first, and the earlier estimates accounted for all of that.

But now, here we are, with a date for the election that is much sooner than expected: Sept. 14. How? Why? What does it mean for Newsom and his opponents? Here’s what you need to know.

Who set the election date for Sept. 14?

The date was decided by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a Democrat who is closely allied with the governor. It was the soonest that county officials said they could pull together a special election.

Previous estimates were later because the recall election process required an additional step, a cost review, before a date could be set. But last month, lawmakers passed a bill allowing the state to bypass that review and pick an earlier date.

So, over objections that legislators were changing the rules of the game in order to protect the governor, that’s what they did.

The special election is expected to cost taxpayers some $276 million, state officials said. That, of course, doesn’t include campaign expenditures. In total, David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State University, told me he expected the spending to be somewhere around half a billion dollars.

But McCuan said this was all part of what he described as “protest politics,” in which politicians are judged less by what they do and more by what sides of contentious issues they represent.

The California Recall Election

Understand the Recall Election: These 12 questions help explain the historical, political and logistical forces behind the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.How Gavin Newsom Got Here: The campaign to recall the state’s governor shows that even a one-party stronghold like California can be rocked by the nation’s political polarization.Campaign Qualifies for Ballot: The 1.6 million voters who signed a petition for the Republican-led recall effort have 30 business days to ask to have their names removed if they so choose.The Pandemic’s Impact on the Election: The recall has highlighted the differences between the powerhouse California that elected Gavin Newsom and the virus-battered California he now governs. And it has raised a question for all governors: Are 2020’s leaders still what is needed in 2021?

“It’s the weaponization of Trump’s playbook through direct democracy by both Republicans and Democrats,” he said.

Is that date good or bad for Newsom?

It’s clear that Newsom and his advisers believe the earlier date is good for him. It will allow the governor to take advantage of Californians’ optimism as they emerge from the pandemic, and will keep short the amount of time left for serious contenders to enter the race. (They have only about two more weeks to jump in. More than 50 candidates are already on the ballot, including a handful of well-funded Republicans.)

And indeed, McCuan said, from a lawmaking standpoint, the Sept. 14 timing is advantageous for the governor.

It’s near the end of the legislative session. This year, the state’s Democrats will have items on their wish lists from a huge budget surplus.

“The Newsom team is going to want to parcel those out based upon who’s playing well in their sandbox,” he said. “He’ll have bills in front of him to sign or veto as he’s going into the recall.”

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Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke at an event where he outlined measures to help restaurants and bars reopen.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Is that date good or bad for the governor’s opponents?

Experts said it may not be bad for proponents of the recall — even if it’s good for Newsom.

Joshua Spivak, a senior fellow at Wagner College’s Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform, told me that the rush to get out the ballot could backfire.

Right now, the voters who are most “engaged — and probably enraged,” are those who would like to boot the governor, as Spivak wrote in an opinion piece for The Los Angeles Daily News. Having a later election would give the Newsom campaign more time to raise money and convince the state’s Democratic base that it’s important to vote.

A later election date also would give Newsom more time to respond to any unforeseen delays or complications with school reopenings in the fall; prolonged school closures were a major point of criticism for Newsom’s Republican opponents.

Still, McCuan said, even if the recall effort fails — as it is expected to do — it will have been worth it for Republicans if they’re able to accomplish one thing: increase party registration in a state where Democrats have dominated and the G.O.P. has been divided over its future.

Republicans can also use the recall as an opportunity to hone a message for California voters before the 2022 midterm elections.

For more:

Find all the answers to your questions about the recall here.

Read more about the rule change lawmakers recently passed from The Sacramento Bee.

Kevin Kiley, a state lawmaker who has been a chief opponent of the governor’s, pushing back repeatedly against pandemic restrictions, announced on Twitter that he would run against him in the recall.

Here’s what else to know today

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Visitors walked by the salt flats of Badwater Basin inside Death Valley National Park last month.Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Compiled by Jonathan Wolfe

A heat wave is expected across the West this week. Here’s how things look in the Bay Area, the Central Valley and Southern California.

Here’s the latest on the Delta variant in the state from The Los Angeles Times.

The collapse of an apartment building in Surfside, Fla., is raising concerns about the structural integrity of San Francisco’s Millennium Tower, CNN reports.

CapRadio investigates why FEMA rejected 95 percent of aid applications during last year’s disastrous wildfire season.

State lawmakers delayed until next year a vote on a bill that would create supervised drug sites for opioid users, The Associated Press reports.

CalMatters explored the two recent decrees, one from the Biden administration, and the other from the Supreme Court, that affect the management of the state’s water supply.

A second round of $600 stimulus checks is part of the current budget negotiations. The San Francisco Chronicle explains how to know if you’ll get one.

After a huge explosion of illegal fireworks last week in south Los Angeles, more than 20 families were evacuated from the area and have yet to return home, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Guardian explores how Black Wall Streets in California have weathered the pandemic and are changing the cities around them.

CalMatters looks at how the state is spending $61 million to create highway crossings to keep wildlife and drivers safe.

Los Angeles’s Tyler, the Creator notched his second No. 1 on the Billboard album chart this week with “Call Me if You Get Lost.”

Real estate: What $3.3 million gets you in California.

And finally …

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Growing up in India, Vijaya Srivastava, now 72, never had access to swimming pools.Credit…Aubrey Trinnaman for The New York Times

For the first 68 years of her life, Vijaya Srivastava stayed on dry land. She hadn’t grown up with access to swimming pools, and as an adult she spent time volunteering or walking around the Berkeley Hills to stay fit.

But, as she explains in this new interview series, she decided to learn to swim.

If you need a little motivation today, take to heart Srivastava’s advice: “Don’t give yourself an option to give up.”

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

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