California Recall Election Odds – Gavin Newsom, Caitlyn Jenner, and More


Last week, the California Secretary of State announced that a campaign geared toward recalling Governor Gavin Newsom received enough signatures to advance to the ballot for a statewide vote. In order for a recall election of a state elected official to take place, the recall campaign must receive a number of legitimate signatures of at least 12 percent of the total number of votes cast in the previous election for that office.

In order to subject Newsom to the recall, this campaign had to attract at least 1,495,709 signatures. Last week, the state was able to verify at least 1.6 million legitimate signatures, which means California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis will be tasked with scheduling a recall election to take place later this year.

Newsom, a Democrat, has repeatedly blasted the recall effort as a blatant partisan attack being staged by Republicans looking to earn some headlines. Those in favor of the recall have repeatedly cited the various restrictions and other efforts the governor has made over the past year in order to combat the pandemic. Newsom’s opponents argue that many of the restrictions put into place by the governor were draconian and limited individual freedoms.

So, California voters will head to the polls sometime in the fall in order to determine whether Newsom will remain in his post. A number of recognizable names have launched campaigns of their own in an attempt to oust Newsom, and BetOnline is actually taking bets on the recall election. Newsom is a heavy -1500 favorite to stave off defeat and stay in office, but this story will surely attract plenty of attention in the months to come.

Is there any value in betting against Newsom? Let’s take a look at a few of the candidates.

Gavin Newsom (-1500)

The effort to recall Newsom has gotten an awful lot of attention, but there are some pretty huge issues with the idea. First, the effort received about 1.6 million verified signatures in a state with a population of nearly 40 million. While actual voters account for only a fraction of that number, it still pales in comparison to the number of votes Newsom received when he won his election in 2018. Newsom won over 7.7 million votes, while Republican challenger John Cox received about 4.7 million.

Back in March, a Politico poll of California voters showed that 56 percent said they would vote to keep Newsom in office, while 40 percent would vote against him. In that 2018 election, Newsom received 62 percent of the vote to Cox’s 38 percent. While the numbers for Newsom may have slid a bit in the wrong direction, he is still pretty popular with a comfortable majority of likely voters.

Newsom’s approval rating dipped down to 53 percent from a high of 65 percent in May of last year, but that still included 77 percent approval among Democrats. No-party preference voters still slightly favored Newsom 49 percent to 46 percent, as well. Since March, Newsom’s approval has again ticked back up to 59 percent.

As you’ll see, there also isn’t a great candidate on the other side vying for Newsom’s job. Back in 2003, when Governor Gray Davis was successfully recalled, Republicans had a popular candidate in Arnold Schwarzenegger. Needless to say, the crop of 2021 hopefuls is going to struggle to generate that same kind of excitement among GOP voters. Newsom’s potential recall is a newsworthy event, but he seems pretty likely to avoid a dramatic removal from office.

Caitlyn Jenner (+800)

Clearly, Caitlyn Jenner is Newsom’s most well-known challenger. The former Olympic champion turned reality TV star has never held public office, but Donald Trump taught us that political experience means absolutely nothing when it comes to winning elections. Nowadays, being famous is apparently enough for voters to buy in.

The 71-year-old Jenner has described herself as “socially liberal and fiscally conservative.” Jenner supported Republican Ted Cruz back in 2016 before eventually announcing that she had voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. However, Politico subsequently reported that voter records indicated that Jenner didn’t actually vote at all in 2016.

She seemed to run hot-and-cold in her support for Trump during his lone term in office before publicly contemplating a run for US Senate in 2018. That run never transpired, but on April 23, she officially announced her candidacy for California governor as a Republican.

As of now, it sure feels as though Jenner is just trying to capitalize on the cult of personality. Over the weekend, she raised some eyebrows by revealing that she opposes transgender girls competing in girls’ sports in school, citing it as “a question of fairness.” Jenner has, however, voiced her support for same-sex marriage in the past.

Otherwise, we really don’t know a lot about Jenner’s platforms just yet. Her revelation about trans girls in sports is an indication that she may be planning to go all-in on standard Republican talking points in an attempt to get elected, but that seems like a rather questionable strategy in California. In last year’s general election, President Joe Biden housed Trump by a margin of over five million votes in the state, and California is notoriously one of the most liberal states in the US.

Jenner’s candidacy may garner plenty of interest considering her celebrity, but her viability as a winning candidate is highly suspect.

Antonio Villaraigosa (+1400)

Antonio Villaraigosa is the Democratic former mayor of Los Angeles, who served from 2005 until 2013. Villaraigosa actually ran for governor back in 2018 before losing badly in the blanket primary to Newsom and Republican John Cox.

While Villaraigosa has blasted the recall effort against Newsom, the ex-mayor hasn’t actually ruled out the idea of launching another campaign of his own. Some Democrats have argued that another prominent Democrat appearing on the recall ballot would actually help Newsom and lessen the chance of a Republican challenger ultimately winning. Others believe that Democrats should unite behind Newsom, fearing the potential for a divided vote within the party.

Villaraigosa was once seen as a potential up-and-comer in the Democratic Party. He was actually the co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign while he was still mayor of LA. Villaraigosa was also involved with Barack Obama’s transition team after Obama’s win in 2008, and he was the Chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

However, the 68-year-old has largely remained out of public view since his 2018 gubernatorial campaign ended with a whimper. Out of sight, out of mind, they say. Villaraigosa may generate some buzz among voters as a recognizable name in state politics, but Newsom’s approval rating would have to absolutely tank between now and November for another Democrat to have much of a chance of actually unseating him.

Kevin Faulconer (+5000)

Kevin Faulconer served as the mayor of San Diego from 2014 to 2020. During his time in office, San Diego was the biggest city in America with a Republican mayor. He was unable to run for re-election last year due to term limits, and he has since reportedly turned his attention to the gubernatorial race.

Faulconer has been a vocal critic of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic over the past year. However, just like Jenner, he has positioned himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Faulconer supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that live in the US, while he has also supported LGBTQ, civil, and abortion rights.

Faulconer was in office when the pandemic began. He initiated a number of measures to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, but he was still critical of certain steps Newsom took on a statewide basis.

He said that Newsom’s decision to close the state’s beaches was “sending the wrong messages,” and he wound up opening San Diego’s beaches despite Newsom’s calls for closures.

Faulconer has voiced his support for the recall, and he announced in February that he would run for governor either in 2022 or in this year’s recall election. Faulconer was fairly popular in San Diego during his term, and it’s fair to assume he’ll receive plenty of local support in the recall election. While any Republican party member faces an uphill climb in a state like California, Faulconer’s moderate track record could potentially set him apart from other GOPers looking to gain traction in this race.

The +5000 odds are admittedly long, but if you want to take a shot on anyone in this range, Faulconer wouldn’t be a terrible flier bet.

Richard Grenell (+5000)

Richard Grenell was the Acting Director of National Intelligence last year under Trump. Grenell was promoted to that post after serving as US Ambassador to Germany starting in 2018. Before joining Trump’s cabinet, Grenell worked in the State Department during the George W. Bush administration before leaving to join Fox News as a contributor.

The latter stages of Grenell’s time in the Trump administration were littered with controversy. He showed up in Las Vegas last November to try and pump up Trump’s false claims that Nevada’s electoral votes were illegally stolen from Trump. Any and all legal challenges filed by the Trump campaign in Nevada were later dismissed in court.

Grenell has not announced plans to run in the recall election, but many have speculated that he will. Earlier this year, Grenell announced his part in the creation of “Fix California,” a group created to try and focus on registering voters and fighting for certain issues. It is essentially a Republican version of Stacey Abrams’ “Fair Fight” group, which accomplished similar goals for Democrats in Georgia last year.

While Grenell supports Newsom’s dismissal, the fact that the winner of the recall election would only be in office for a year until the 2022 general election could be something that keeps him out of this year’s race. Grenell may instead focus his efforts on 2022 in order to seek a full term. As of now, I’d much rather bet on Faulconer at +5000 than Grenell at the same odds.

Tom Steyer (+5000)

You may remember Tom Steyer as one of the many people that attempted to nab the Democratic nomination for president ahead of last year’s election. Or you may not remember him, because he garnered very little support and didn’t win a single delegate during the primaries.

Regardless, Steyer is one of the few Democrats that has been rumored to be considering a run for Newsom’s job. Steyer is a billionaire that has since turned his attention to issues like protecting the environment, which was the top priority of his candidacy during his brief presidential campaign.

Steyer recently conducted a poll focused on a number of different issues and whether California voters may be ready to get rid of Newsom a year ahead of schedule. That poll reportedly included a number of potential fallback options from which Democratic voters could choose should Newsom’s favorability crater. Steyer was among the options, which has led to talk of a potential gubernatorial run this year.

In March, however, Steyer reportedly said that he would support Newsom rather than trying to capitalize on any recall effort. Steyer may run in next year’s election, but I’d pass on a Steyer flier at +5000.

Mary Carey (+10000)

Recall elections are hardly new to California. In fact, California was the last state to successfully recall its governor. It happened back in 2003 when incumbent Gray Davis was booted from office.

The 2003 Ballot Included Two Questions

The first was whether Davis should be removed from office. 55.4 percent of voters voted in favor of kicking Davis out of his post, with 44.6 percent opposed. The second question was which other candidate should replace Davis if a majority of voters approved of removal. Schwarzenegger wound up receiving over 48 percent of the vote, but the field of candidates was incredibly long.

The field included no shortage of recognizable names. Arianna Huffington, Tom McClintock, Cruz Bustamante, Larry Flynt, and Gary Coleman were among the luminaries in the field. Mary Carey, an adult film star, actually received over 11,000 votes.

Carey’s candidacy was hardly serious, of course, but she’s back in the news!

It’s safe to assume that we’ll see plenty of pseudo-celebrities throw their respective hats into the ring ahead of this year’s recall, but you’d be better off lighting your money on fire than actually wagering on Carey here at +10000.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …

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