Former GOP congressman Ose announces California recall bid

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Doug Ose speaks during a debate in Sacramento, Calif., in 2014. | Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

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Former Rep. Doug Ose on Tuesday joined the growing field of Republicans vying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election.

“I’ve lived here my entire life, I’ve never seen it so screwed up,” Ose told Sacramento-based KFBK radio.

Republicans are not waiting for the recall to qualify before jumping in. Ose joins former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in a 2018 blowout. It is all but certain that more candidates will enter given the relatively low bar to getting on the ballot.

That scenario could undermine Republicans by fracturing the field of conservative potential successors to Newsom. But Cox, Faulconer and surrogates have already begun trading blows and jockeying for position in a race that parallels a larger struggle for the Republican Party’s soul after the presidency of Donald Trump.

Ose, 65, represented a Sacramento-area House district for three terms from 1999 to 2005. He sought to reclaim a spot in Congress in 2014 but narrowly lost an expensive challenge to Democratic Rep. Ami Bera. He briefly toyed with a 2018 gubernatorial run but ultimately decided against it.

Ose said he expects about 100 candidates on the recall ballot and about four or five to be “reasonably credible.”

“We need our schools open, we need our businesses open, we need to know where you can get a shot and people to go back to work,” Ose told host John McGinness.

Recall proponents must submit nearly 1.5 million valid signatures by Wednesday evening. They believe they have collected more than enough, but Newsom and allies have begun treating a recall campaign as a foregone conclusion as they launch an effort to defend the Democratic governor.

“The reality is, looks like it’s going on the ballot,” Newsom said on Tuesday.

Should the recall qualify, voters will answer two questions: whether Newsom should be recalled, and who should replace him.

A recall offers California Republicans a singular chance to reverse their long slide in America’s most populous state. The party does not hold a single statewide office and has been relegated to a super-minority in the Legislature, although Republicans wrested back four House seats in 2020. Voter registration numbers pose a steep challenge in statewide contests, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by about 5 million voters.

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