SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — The lieutenant governor’s office is the final stop in the recall process before the election hits the ballot.
“In the coming weeks, the picture will start to get much clearer,” said Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis.
Kounalakis is preparing for her role in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall process: It’s up to her to decide when the election will be.
“At the end of the day, the prediction is, right now, it could be as early as September or as late as November. But some of that is being determined right now,” she told KRON4.
There are a few steps that need to happen before Kounalakis calls it. First, the cost of the election needs to be analyzed between the Department of Finance and Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
The state Department of Finance Thursday sent a preliminary cost estimate to the Legislature with a $215 million price tag for counties. Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, issued a joint statement Thursday in response.
Our local communities don’t deserve to be saddled with unnecessary recall costs as they work to recover from the pandemic. The Legislature will lift the burden from their plate and include $215 million in the budget bill to have the state cover the costs. In addition, this funding will allow for an earlier recall election. By providing counties with the funding they need, we can waive the required period for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to review the election costs.
SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE TONI ATKINS AND ASSEMBLY SPEAKER ANTHONY RENDON
Once the cost analysis is finished, the secretary of state will certify the election, which is when the lieutenant governor gets involved.
“And we set a date 60 to 80 days after the secretary of state certifies it, so all of this is very carefully determined by the statute,” Kounalakis explained.
The Joint Legislature Budget Committee indicated they could perhaps have the matter figured out by next Tuesday.
“Again, we’re going to have it in early fall,” Kounalakis said.
“And I think that’s what really is so troubling to me about all this is, is that Governor Newsom will be on the ballot three times in four years at great cost. And certainly, something that has to distract to some degree from his ability to just focus on what people really want, which is leadership to help us navigate the post-COVID pandemic economic recovery in our state,” she continued.
As of Thursday, nearly 50 candidates have stated their intention to run in the recall.
In California’s last recall election of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, the lieutenant governor at the time jumped into the race. However, Kounalakis will not.
“There is really no scenario that I could foresee that I would put my name on the ballot because this recall election is between Governor Newsom and the Republicans who are trying to get a shot at using this peculiar, relatively peculiar process to be able to win an election they ordinarily would not be able to win,” she said.
This week was also the deadline for those who signed the recall petition to have their signature removed. KRON4 has reached out to the secretary of state’s office for an update on those numbers but has not heard back.