California governor Gavin Newsom looks set to face a recall as a campaign to oust him gains traction following disapproval over his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Campaigners lobbying for the recall have reportedly said they have gathered 1.2 million of the around 1.5 million signatures required to have a recall placed on the ballot per state law, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The proponents have reportedly raised more than $1.7 million and have until 17 March to gain the signatures, 84 per cent of which have been confirmed by the Secretary as State as valid, KUSI reported.
If a recall qualifies for the ballot, voters would decide whether to recall Democratic Gov Newsom and remove him from his position and would also vote for who should replace him.
While this is said to be the sixth recall effort the Democratic governor has faced in two years, this particular campaign has gained traction following growing criticism of his handling of the pandemic and its economic impact.
Rescue California, one of the two lead groups organising the effort, is seeking to collect two million signatures in the campaign, Fox News said.
Gov Newsom faced fierce backlash in November after he was caught flouting his own guidance not to mix with other households by attending a birthday celebration of more than 12 people at the lavish French Laundry in Napa Valley.
The governor later apologised for the “bad mistake” saying: “The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted and I got to own that.”
Gov Newsom’s office referred questions to political adviser Dan Newman, when contacted by The Journal, who told the newspaper the governor had taken bold steps to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by The Independent.
“Californians are hurting, and we’ve had a dramatic failure of leadership from the governor,” former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican who expressed a desire to run in the recall, told The Journal.
“The governor’s actions are harming lives and livelihoods, people are at their wits’ end and they want to do something about it.”
The reports come on the same day that Gov Newsom lifted strict stay-at-home orders in all regions of the state, which were placed on the are during December in a bid to combat rising cases.
According to ABC7, non-essential businesses will still be forced to close and restaurants will be permitted to serve outdoors only.
California has recorded more than 3.19 million cases of the novel coronavirus disease since the pandemic gripped the country last March, leading to the deaths of more than 37,000 people.
A successful recall effort has only ever come to fruition in the state in 2003 when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Democrat Gray Davis.