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If Newsom Is Recalled, What Could A Republican Governor Actually Accomplish?

a camouflage baseball cap with a patch that reads "Recall Newsom. Vote 4 Elder for CA governor"
Support for gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder, candidate for California's recall election, is displayed on a baseball hat in Monterey Park on September 13, 2021, where Elder stopped to campaign.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, California will decide whether or not to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. Let's say California recalls Newsom tomorrow and elects a Republican Governor. What could they get done in a state government dominated by Democrats?

According to a panel of political journalists and experts, not as much as they'd like to.

KQED correspondent Marisa Lagos says someone like Larry Elder, who opposes vaccine and mask mandates, would initially have the authority to repeal those things.

"A new governor could really come in within a few minutes and sign an executive order to repeal those, to put in place other things that they maybe preferred, or to do away with a lot of those mandates. And many counties have sort of relied on the state infrastructure around that for their own requirements," Lagos says.

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But the legislature has the ultimate decision-making power, whether it comes to executive orders or budget proposals, according to Dan Walters of CalMatters.

Even if a new governor immediately revokes a bunch of Newsom's decisions, California's legislature could push back.

"In about 45 minutes, they could take that entire program of masking mandates and whatnot, enact it into law, and [the governor] would veto the law, and they would override it, and it would go into effect," Walters says.

But any governor, Republican or Democrat, has at least one major power the legislature can't override — appointing judges. The legislature has little ability to check that power.

CalMatters reporter Laurel Rosenhall told KPCC's AirTalk the state court has dozens of vacancies that need to be filled. The governor can also appoint vacant U.S. Senate and Assembly seats.

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