By MICHAEL R. BLOOD
AP Political Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election Sept. 14 that could remove him from office. Forty-six candidates qualified for the ballot to replace him if he is pushed out. Just over 5 million mail-in ballots already have been returned. The contest is unfolding as the state sees a surge in coronavirus cases from the delta variant, and the return of masks and other restrictions in some of its most populated counties. Newsom was elected in a 2018 landslide, but his popularity tumbled over frustration with school and business closings during the pandemic. Leading Republican candidates include talk radio host Larry Elder and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.