Leaders of the recall campaign have asked a judge to remove statements by Governor Gavin Newsom linking the effort to Republicans from official election guides being sent to California voters.
Recall movement co-founders Orrin Heatlie, a retired Yolo Sheriff’s sergeant, and Mike Netter, a former Staples executive, argue in the lawsuit filed Friday that Newsom’s assertion that the recall is an “attempt by national Republicans and Trump supporters to force an election and grab power in California” is “at best misleading, at worst flat-out false, and in all events a hyperbolic outrage.”
The guides, which will be sent to all registered voters in advance of the September 14 showdown, will include statements of up to 500 words from Heatlie and Newsom arguing for and against the merits of the recall. The recallers believe Newsom’s proposed argument violates election instructions against including “any demonstrably false, slanderous, or libelous statements.”
They specifically take issue with casting the election as a “Republican recall” because more than half of the 46 candidates are not party members. In fact, they want the word “Republican” redacted from Newsom’s entire statement, except where he writes that the movement to oust him was the brainchild of “national Republicans who fought to overturn the presidential election.” They want that line changed to read “the recall’s supporters include national Republicans.”
Additionally, Heatlie and Netter are demanding that the court cut a sentence which characterizes the effort as an abuse of state recall laws, saying they were well within their legal rights when they collected the roughly 1.5 million signatures required to trigger the recall.
In a response filed Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said state elections officials take no position on the issues raised in the lawsuit, but they ask the court to rule on the matter before Friday, when the text of the voter guide has to be finalized.
Newsom spokesman Nathan Click called the suit “totally baseless,” pointing out that Republicans like Heatlie started the recall movement and have raised money from the GOP.
Click said in statement, “Republicans know they can’t win in a normal election year, so they are trying to force a special election and grab power.”
County elections officials will begin mailing out ballots on August 16.
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