California GOP votes not to endorse in coming Newsom recall election

The California Republican Party will not endorse a candidate in the state’s upcoming recall election, as 24 GOP candidates campaign to replace Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom expands California drought emergency statewide Don't break California's recall by 'fixing' it Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space MORE (D-Calif.).

The party voted overwhelmingly on Saturday not to endorse a candidate in the September race over concerns that throwing their support behind one of the Republican candidates would divide the party and lead some voters to stay home, The Associated Press reported.

Roughly 90 percent of the delegates who were at the party’s virtual meeting supported not endorsing one candidate, the AP noted. They were reportedly planning on choosing which candidate to endorse out of a small group of four, according to Politico.

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Twenty-four percent of California voters are registered as Republicans, according to the AP.

“The polls are showing that the recall is in a statistical tie, and we cannot afford to discourage voters who are passionate about a particular candidate, yet may not vote because their favored candidate didn’t receive the endorsement,” Republican National Committee members Harmeet Dhillon and Shawn Steel wrote in an email, according to the AP.

Californians will weigh in on the recall election on Sept. 14. The ballot will ask voters two question: first, whether Newsom should be removed, then who should replace him, according to the AP.

The second question will list the 41 candidates who qualified for the ballot, including talk radio host Larry Elder, former San Diego mayor Kevin FaulconerKevin FaulconerRepublicans trapped in a media prison of their own making Seven takeaways from California's recall election Newsom easily beats back recall effort in California MORE, businessman John Cox, state legislator Kevin Kiley, former U.S. House member Doug Ose and former Olympian and reality television personality Caitlyn Jenner, all of whom are running as Republicans.

If a majority of voters support Newson’s recall, the candidate who receives the most votes in the second question will win the governorship, the news wire noted.

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Recent polls in the Golden State show that voters are deadlocked on whether or not to oust the first-term governor.

A poll conducted between Aug. 2 and Aug. 4 by Survey USA for the San Diego Union Tribune found that 51 percent of respondents would vote to remove Newsom from office if held that day, compared to 40 percent who said they wanted the governor to remain in his post. The poll did not report a traditional margin of error, but the credibility interval was five percentage points.

Another survey conducted between July 30 and Aug. 1 by the California Emerson College and Nexstar Media Group found that 46 percent of likely voters supported Newsom’s recall with 48 opposed and six percent undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.

A petition to recall Newsom began circulating in February 2020 following frustrations with how the governor was dealing with issues like immigration, homelessness and property taxes, according to ABC 7 in Los Angeles.

Irritation with Newsom, however, increased in the following months during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many criticizing his reopening effort. Anger spiked when the governor was seen dining at a fancy restaurant while the state was still under tight restrictions and most residents were being told to stay home.

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Cox, Kiley and Faulconer all supported the party’s decision not to back a single candidate. 

Cox praised the group’s decision after it was made, contending that it is important for the party to be united, and Kiley said all the candidates are "on the same team as we make the case that California deserves so much better than Gavin Newsom," according to the AP.

Faulconer’s team had been urging the party not to weigh in even before the Saturday decision, Politico noted, instead writing in an email to supporters before the vote that the GOP should "unite towards the sole goal of driving support for this historic recall."