Voters reject effort to remove California Gov. Gavin Newsom in recall election

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California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday became the second governor in US history to defeat a recall aimed at kicking him out of office early, a contest the Democratic governor has contested as a national fight for his party’s values ​​in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. prepared as part of Persistent threats from “Trumpism”.

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The victory cements Newsom as a key figure in national democratic politics and preserves her prospects for a future US run. It also ensures that the country’s most populous state will remain under democratic control as a laboratory for progressive policies on immigration, climate change, representation and inequality.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said at a news conference. “I want to focus on saying ‘yes’ as a state: we said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to end this pandemic.”

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A Republican would almost certainly have replaced Newsom if the recall was successful, bringing a polar opposite political worldview, though he would have had to contend with a state capitol dominated by Democrats.

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The recall, which changed Newsom’s approach to the pandemic, reflected the country’s heated political division over trade closures and mask and vaccine mandates, and the two parties will dissect its outcome in the 2022 midterm elections.

President Joe Biden sought confirmation of the Democratic Party’s vision of tougher restrictions and vaccine requirements, urging the people of California to show the country that “leadership matters, science matters.” The race was also a test of whether opposition to former President Donald Trump and his right-wing politics is a driving force for Democrats and independents.

“We beat Donald Trump, we didn’t beat Trumpism. Trumpism is still alive across the country,” Newsom said when he campaigned in a state that the former president had lost by 29 percentage points.

Republicans had expected evidence that months of despair over pandemic precautions would turn voters away from Democrats. He also found evidence that voters were tired of liberal leadership. Democrats have controlled every level of government in California for more than a decade, a period marked by the housing crisis and the increasingly damaging effects of climate change. Republicans won four seats in the US House last year, a success that leaders had hoped for, indicating revived signs of life.

But a recall election is an imperfect barometer—especially of national trends. Democrats outnumber Republicans in California by nearly 2-to-1, so the results may not translate to governors in toss-up states or reflect how voters will judge members of Congress next year. This unusual contest, held at the end of the summer, meant that some voters were not even seen.

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Voters were asked two questions: Should Newsom be recalled, and if so, who would replace him? Of the 46 names on the replacement ballot, only a few received public recognition, but most failed to gain traction with voters.

Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who had entered the race just three months before Election Day, quickly rose to the top of the pack. But it allowed Newsom to turn the campaign into a choice between the two men, rather than a referendum on his performance.

Newsom seized Elder’s opposition to the minimum wage and abortion rights as evidence that he was outside the California mainstream. The governor branded him as “more extreme than Trump,” while Biden called him “the closest thing to a Trump clone I’ve ever seen”.

While the contest didn’t bring the circus-like element of California’s 2003 remembrance—when voters replaced Democratic Gov. Gray Davis with Republican film star Arnold Schwarzenegger—it had its own quirky moments.

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Reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner entered the race but gained little momentum and left the state to campaign to film a reality show in Australia. Businessman John Cox, who lost badly to Newsom in 2018, tried to spice up his campaign by hiring a live bear to join him, calling himself a “beast” for Newsom’s “beauty”. Branded as. The most famous Democrat on the replacement ballot was the 29-year-old YouTube star who gives financial advice to his followers.

Although Newsom defeats Recall, he may soon run again against Elder: the governor is up for re-election next year, and the primary, which puts candidates from all parties on a ballot, is only nine months away. Is.

The recall, initiated by an amateur political organizer, was not the first attempt to oust Newsom, and it began as an expression of frustration at the Democrats’ grip on power. But when Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order, the pandemic became the driving force of the race.

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Remember organizers needed about 1.5 million signatures — California has 22 million registered voters — to make the ballot. He is credited with his success on a day in November, when a judge gave him four additional months to collect signatures because of the pandemic.

That same day, Newsom attended a birthday party with friends and lobbyists at the lavish French Laundry restaurant, a gathering that violated his pandemic rules. The episode turned into a public relations disaster.

Proponents of the recall expressed frustration at the months-long trade-off, restrictions that put most children in distance learning for a full academic year, and a confusing patchwork of rules that governed how people interacted with friends and family. How can I gather with family? Increasing murders, a continuing crisis of homelessness and an unemployment fraud scandal further angered Newsom’s critics.

But the wider public remained in favor of Newsom. Polls by the Public Policy Institute of California showed his approval rating remaining above 50% during the pandemic. With weeks to go, 60% of Californians polled by the institute approve of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic.

In the early months of his campaign, Newsom announced that California was “coming back” from the virus, and used tax dollars to fund billions of dollars in funding for programs ranging from child education to homelessness. Middle- and low-income Californians received checks of up to $1,100 each.

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