Politics & Policy

California Recall Election: Assessing the Campaign to Recall Governor Gavin Newsom

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California Governor Gavin Newsom’s policies on gun control, immigration, the death penalty and homelessness have played a major role in the gubernatorial recall election. But while Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home orders and the infamous French Laundry dinner scandal fueled the recall campaign, his approval ratings remain higher than former Governor Gray Davis, the only California governor ever to be recalled.

With the upcoming special September 2021 recall election in sight, policymakers and political writers discuss how the movement gained momentum, criticism for and against the recall, and its possible outcomes.

This panel features Jennifer Cryer, assistant professor of political science and international relations at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy, co-directors of the USC Center for the Political Future (CPF); Carla Marinucci, senior writer for POLITICO California Playbook; Seema Mehta, political writer with the Los Angeles Times; and Roger Salazar, political strategist and president of Alza Strategies.

Who Will Benefit

– Young voters who want to assess the 2021 gubernatorial recall election campaign
– Policymakers and voter advocates seeking a deeper understanding of the factors that led to the recall election
– Those looking to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine played a role in recall campaign

About Our Featured Faculty

Robert “Bob” Shrum is the director of the USC Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife. A legendary political strategist, he was described as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party,” by The Atlantic Monthly. He was the strategist in over 25 winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful campaigns for governor, successful campaigns for mayors in major American cities, and numerous campaigns for Congress and other statewide offices. His numerous clients included Edward Kennedy, Joe Biden, John Glenn, and Barbara Mikulski, David Dinkins and Tom Bradley — and John Kerry and Al Gore in their presidential races. Overseas, his clients included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the British Labour Party, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and the Presidents of Colombia and Bolivia.

Jennifer Cryer is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at USC. She specializes in American politics, political communication, political geography and computational social science. In her dissertation project — funded by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics — she analyzed campaign communication, using computational methods to identify them, and experimental designs to measure the effects of each message. Cryer’s scholarship has been presented at APSA, MPSA, New Faces in Political Methodology, and the Politics of Race, Immigration and Ethnicity Consortium, among others.

Mike Murphy is the co-director of the USC Center for the Political Future. Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than 26 successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. His record in helping Republicans win Democratic states is unmatched by any other GOP consultant. Murphy has been called a “media master” by Fortune magazine, the GOP’s “hottest media consultant” by Newsweek, and the leader of a “new breed” of campaign consultants by Congressional Quarterly. He is a widely known political pundit, appearing frequently on NBC, CNN and NPR. Previously, he served as a regular on the Meet the Press political roundtable and wrote the “Murphy’s Law” column for TIME Magazine.