Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state elections.
It is all but certain that California will have its second gubernatorial recall ever, likely this fall, based on an official state signature tally released last week. The state's unique recall system lends itself to a delicate intraparty dance. California asks two questions: first, do you want to recall Newsom, and second, who should replace him if the recall is successful? The rules don't allow Newsom to appear on that replacement list of contenders who would take his job.
As the prospect of a Villaraigosa candidacy gained steam in recent weeks, other Newsom allies tried to blunt that momentum. Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez declined to share his private conversations with Villaraigosa and stressed that he does not speak for the former mayor, but Núñez predicted that “at the end of the day, all of the Democratic establishment and Democratic activists are going to be on the side of Gov. Gavin Newsom.”
“We can’t make the same mistake twice,” Núñez said, invoking the ill-fated entry of Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in the 2003 recall won by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I don’t see Democrats repeating that exercise again.”
If Democrats play their cards wrong and Newsom is recalled without a leading Democrat on the ballot as an option, a high-name ID Republican could take the top job with a quarter of the vote in one of the nation’s bluest states.
“The only time I worry about a Republican [not] winning this seat is if one credible Democrat gets in,” said Anne Dunsmore, who runs one of the recall committees that are on the verge of qualifying the election.
One Democratic lawmaker said this week that California's two-question approach needs an overhaul. "The crazy thing about our system is that many more people can vote to keep the incumbent in office than the person who ends up replacing the incumbent," said Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).
California is one of the slowest states to invite students back for fully in-person instruction amid the pandemic, data released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education shows.
State and local education officials have been pushing for a swift and safe reopening of schools across California through a combination of financial incentives, vaccine priorities and access to safety supplies. But the new data shows that much of the state remains in distance learning, even as the majority of the country’s schools have started welcoming students back to campus in some capacity.
California is among states with the highest percentage of schools that are not yet offering fully in-person instruction, according to the department of education data, which was collected Feb. 22 through March 12 of this year. About 82% of elementary schools are not open for fully in-person instruction in California, topped only by Washington (91%), Oregon (92%) and Maryland (92%).