Tue, 21 Sep 2021

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Polls opened across the western U.S. state of California Tuesday morning for the California gubernatorial recall election, a special election on whether or not to recall Governor Gavin Newsom from office.

Newsom, elected California governor in November 2018 with over 61 percent of the vote, is the second governor in the state's history to face a recall election. He is the state's former lieutenant governor and served as mayor of San Francisco.

In the other recall election in the state, Californians voted overwhelmingly to recall Democratic Governor Gray Davis and replace him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.

The Republican-led effort to oust Newsom gained steam after criticism of the Democratic governor's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 46 challengers are running to replace the governor if he loses the recall election.

The recall ballot includes two parts. The first requires a yes or no answer: Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled from the office of governor? If a majority of the votes on the recall question are "Yes," Newsom shall be removed from office and the replacement candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected for the remainder of the governor's term of office, ending Jan. 2, 2023.

U.S. media predict that Newsom has a healthy lead over challengers in the Democratic-leaning deep-blue state. There are around 22 million registered voters in California, the most populous state in the country and home to around 40 million residents. Republican voters are outnumbered by Democrats in the Golden State by nearly 2 to 1.

According to a University of California Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times released Friday, 60.1 percent of likely voters surveyed oppose recalling Newsom compared with 38.5 percent in favor of ousting the governor, the biggest newspaper on America's West Coast reported.

U.S. President Joe Biden urged Californians to reject the attempt to recall Newsom in the election gathering national attention during his visit to the state on Monday.

During an address at Long Beach City College in Los Angeles County Monday night, Biden praised Newsom "has had the courage to lead, stand up for science" and "for the very thing he's been one of the leading governors in the nation, protecting his people and vaccinating his state."

"The eyes of the nation are on California. Because the decision you're about to make isn't just going to have a huge impact on California. It's going to reverberate around the nation," he added.

"The results of the race in which Newsom needs a majority vote to hold his job are likely to influence the 2022 midterms, when control of Congress again will be in play and the party that controls the White House historically loses seats," commented a report published on The Sacramento Bee, a major newspaper published in Sacramento, capital of the state of California.

"They could determine how prominently Democrats campaign on COVID-19 restrictions that many Republicans have decried as unnecessary and overly burdensome," said the report.

The Los Angeles Times also pointed out in an article that "the race has captured the attention of a deeply divided nation and, whatever the outcome, seems set to be cited as evidence of which direction the larger political winds are blowing."

"For Republicans, a successful recall would not only deal Newsom a devastating defeat, but shatter the entrenched Democratic hegemony in Sacramento. Democrats have decried the effort as an underhanded power grab and warned of potentially dire consequences should it succeed," the newspaper added.

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