Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a press conference at The Unity Council in Oakland on May 10, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

(CALMATTERS) – Just when you thought the events surrounding the election to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from office couldn’t get any more surreal, Monday happened.

That’s when Newsom sued Secretary of State Shirley Weber — whom he appointed to the position just months ago — for refusing to correct his lawyers’ filing mistake that could result in Newsom appearing on the recall ballot without “Democratic Party” listed next to his name. The legal feud, first reported by Courthouse News, suggests that Newsom sees the potential omission as a threat: In campaign fundraising emails and ads, Newsom has appealed to the state’s deep bench of Democratic voters by depicting the recall as an effort led by Republican extremists.

The jaw-dropping news came only hours after state lawmakers passed a bill that would waive certain recall rules they wrote just a few years ago and allow the election to be held earlier than expected — a move likely intended to help Newsom stay in office. Newsom immediately signed the bill into law, meaning that if state officials — including Weber — act quickly, we could know the election date as early as Friday.

Though the recall bill accounted for less than 0.1% of the whopping $263 billion budget the state Legislature passed Monday, it sparked a sizable political battle as Republican lawmakers argued the governor shouldn’t be able to change procedures affecting his own election.

“It is not hyperbole to say this is qualitatively the same thing that happens in corrupt, sham democracies. … Those in power use their power to make sure they don’t lose their power.” – Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, a Rocklin Republican considering a gubernatorial run

The debate is:”becoming overly political and it’s all about saying as many things as negative as possible about the governor. … I don’t want the (Assembly) floor to be misused that way.” – Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, a Los Angeles Democrat