Be prepared to add a third contest to the 2021 slate of governors races — but with a twist. Both parties acknowledge that the recall effort against California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is all but certain to proceed after signatures are verified. Eighteen years ago, another California Democratic governor, Gray Davis, became the first ever to be recalled and replaced with movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, Newsom enters as the clear favorite to retain his post.

But there are major questions to watch over the next few months as the recall develops that will determine whether Newsom is really in jeopardy: Will another major Democrat get in the race as a fallback in case Newsom is recalled? Can Republicans consolidate behind the type of candidate who could get a plurality if that happens? And what does a post-pandemic California look like come fall as a new school year approaches?

Recall Timeline: How We Got Here, and What's Next

The recall campaign initially had nothing to do with COVID. The sixth such effort targeting Newsom began in February 2020

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