TRENTON, N.J. – Can they obtain the mountain of valid signatures required to trigger a recall election?
Phil Murphy’s supporters and detractors alike agree it’s a near-impossible feat, but on Thursday, the state appeared to approve a petition which those seeking to recall the first term Democrat Governor will circulate in an uphill attempt to force him out of office.
“The Phil Murphy Recall Petition is officially approved by the State of New Jersey,” the recall group’s Facebook page announced on Thursday morning, posting a copy of the April 18th letter received by one of the petition’s advocates from the N.J. Division of Elections. “We will post more information later on [with] the details.”
Recalling Phil Murphy requires a Herculean feat of grassroots energy and logistical sophistication. The New Jersey Constitution provides that“…a recall election shall be held upon petition of at least 25% of the registered voters in the electoral district of the official sought to be recalled.”
25% works out to nearly 1.5 million signatures (1,484,358 to be precise) obtained over a relatively short period of 320 days. Extra signatures will likely be needed since some signatures will undoubtedly be dumped due to deficiencies. The total needed is more than the raw total of votes garnered by Murphy in 2017 (1,203,110) and nearly double Republican Kim Guadagno’s own 2017 vote total of 899,583.
Of course, recalling Governor Murphy is only step #1. The Governor would then need to be defeated in a statewide recall contest.
History is on Murphy’s side in this regard. Just two governors have been successfully recalled in all of U.S. history.
The first was Governor Lynn Frazier of North Dakota back in 1921.
Much more recently, in 2003, Californians recalled Democrat Governor Gray Davis and ultimately elected Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger as his replacement. That campaign was well-funded by then-Congressman Darrell Issa and generated 1.6 million signature of the 897,156 required signatures (1,356,408 were deemed valid).