Supporters of a petition drive to recall Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who have until Dec. 3 to collect enough signatures to qualify the petition for the ballot, are scrambling to amass as many names as possible before the deadline.
But they declined to say how close they are to gathering the 243,995 signatures of registered voters they need. The group, “Battle Born Patriots,” had 31,850 signatures at the drive’s legally-mandated half-way point in October, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.
That left the supporters with 45 days between mid-October and Dec. 3 to gather the remaining 212,145 signatures required.
“We don’t know if we’re going to make it or not, (but) we’re working hard,” said Dee Mounts, Battle Born Patriots’ Nye County leader. “(County leaders) never get the total numbers for the whole state. We just turn in what we have from each county… We have less than two weeks left and we are doing a huge push for signatures.”
It’s the third recall attempt this year
Their petition is the third filed against the Silver State’s governor, who was elected to a four-year term in 2018 with 49.4% of the vote. The first recall effort ended in May, after a group called “Fight for Nevada,” which filed its petition in February, collected just 33,105 signatures in the 90-day period allowed for the effort. The organization filed a lawsuit seeking an extension of the gathering period, but in May a judge ruled against the request.
A second petition effort filed by “Save Nevada – Recall Steve Sisolak” on Sept. 3, was abandoned after the organizer said he had trouble finding reliable volunteers to gather signatures. Battle Born Nevada’s ongoing petition also was filed Sept. 3, according to state records.
Critics have a litany of complaints
The three recall efforts cited similar reasons why Sisolak should vacate the governor’s chair, including complaints that he supports: gun control measures that petitioners say violate Second Amendment rights; restrictions on the transfers of private property; laws requiring forced metering of private water wells; abortions without parental notice; new taxes; and that, in general, he routinely violates constraints placed upon him by both the U.S. and Nevada Constitutions.
“(Gov. Sisolak) has placed himself and office in an adversarial position against the majority of Nevada residents and does in no way represent Nevada values.”– Battle Born Patriots’ recall petition.
Sisolak has repeatedly declined to directly address the recall efforts. In response to the second and third petitions, his office in September issued a statement to the Nevada Independent: “The governor is focused on the job he was elected to do. Right now, that includes leading the state through an unprecedented global pandemic. Nevada has a recall process, and Nevadans have a right to exercise that process if they so choose.”
Group described as ‘non-partisan‘
Battle Born Patriots has collected signatures at businesses and public gatherings, including outside polling places on Election Day and at GOP-related rallies both before and after the election. Although the positions listed in its petition coincide with many Republican talking points, Mounts said that the political action committee is a non-partisan organization.
“We have Democrats, Libertarians and independents involved,” she said. “We have signers from all parties. They are not happy with him either. It has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat; it has everything to do with the actions of Sisolak himself. He’s a terrible governor.”
COVID-19 response becomes an issue
Sisolak’s response to the pandemic, which included business closures in March, a shutdown of bars in July, a mask mandate and other public health measures, is another example of his unconstitutional actions, Mounts said. The recall effort predated the pandemic, but opposition to the restrictions often comes up when people sign the petitions.
Studies indicate governments that mandated shutdowns, social-distancing and other precautions “substantially slowed the spread of COVID-19” compared to states where restrictions were not imposed.
Mounts was asked about the examples of governors in states like South Dakota, who didn’t impose restrictions. Some of those states are now experiencing exponential increases in virus cases and and their hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. She said she favors individual choice.
“I think most people want to make their own decisions,” Mounts said. “We don’t want the government deciding for us. This is America and we take care of our own.”
“Some people want to be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. That’s fine. If people want to wear masks, let them wear masks. If you are sick or something, then that’s what you should be doing, wearing a mask. But to have healthy people wearing a mask because the governor said so doesn’t make any sense to me.”– Dee Mounts, Nye County, Battle Born Patriots.
Criticism is easy, action is hard
Kelly Slater, a Las Vegas independent DJ, formed the“Save Nevada – Recall Steve Sisolak” Facebook group in September. He said he agreed with the initial group’s reasons for attempting to recall Sisolak. But the pandemic restrictions, which he said are destroying Nevadans’ livelihoods, moved him to file the second petition and take the lead in promoting it.
“When (the Facebook group) started out, we had like 45 members and it grew to over 500,” he said. “I consistently had people calling and saying they wanted to volunteer and who wanted a copy of the petition.” He mailed petitions to supporters around the state who agreed to gather signatures.
“I asked each one to give me a call on Fridays to let me know how (collecting) was going,” he said. “No one did. It was getting to the point where I was the only person that I know of who was actually going out and gathering signatures.”
Single-handedly seeking signatures
Slater attended pre-election events, including a Ted Cruz rally in Clark County, where he said 175 people signed his petition. He collected signatures for weeks, he said, but none of the other volunteers turned in any petitions.
“Everybody wants to sit on Facebook and bitch about Sisolak but nobody actually did anything when it mattered except for me,” he said. “I just got fed up with it and washed my hands of the whole thing… I’ve called the secretary of state and cancelled the petition.”
Some citizens unfamiliar with process
Mounts said it is sometimes difficult to get signatures because even if people are displeased with Sisolak’s policies and frustrated with his response to the pandemic, they may not understand the recall process.
“Some people didn’t know what recall means,” she said. “They may think it’s something supporting him. We tell them it means we want to fire him.”
Successful recalls are rare in the U.S.
It’s not easy to unseat a governor. In the last century, just three have been recalled and forced to run in a special election. Only one such contest resulted in voters replacing an incumbent. That happened in 2003 in California, when voters swapped Democratic Governor Gray Davis with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Battle Born Patriots are hoping they will make history in the Silver State.
“Being governor is a thankless job, no matter what,” Mounts said. “If you go one way, the other half is always going to be upset… But (Sisolak) is controlling Nevada in the wrong way. He has to go.”