Newsom survives California recall election

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California Governor Gavin Newsom emphatically Tuesday defeated a recall aimed at expelling him from office earlier, a competition the Democrat organized as part of a national battle for his party’s values ​​in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and continued threats from “Trumpism.”

Newsom rushed to an early victory spurred by healthy participation in the majority Democratic state. He touted it as a victory for science, women’s rights and other liberal issues, and it ensures that the country’s most populous state will remain under democratic control as a laboratory for progressive policies.

“’No’ is not the only thing that has been voiced tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: we said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to the end of this pandemic.”

With around 60% of ballots counted, “no” on whether to recall Newsom was ahead 2-1. This massive lead was built on votes cast by mail and ahead of Tuesday’s in-person poll. . While it is likely to wane somewhat in the days to come as the votes cast at polling stations are counted, the lead Newsom has taken among the votes cast before election day – which were counted on the first Tuesday night – was overwhelming.

Republican talk radio host Larry Elder would almost certainly have replaced Newsom had the recall succeeded, bringing an opposing political worldview, even though it should have faced a Democrat-dominated legislature.

The California recall, which focused on Newsom’s approach to the pandemic, reflected the country’s political division over business closures and mask and vaccine mandates, and both sides will dissect its results ahead of the election. mid-term of 2022.

President Joe Biden called for validation of the Democratic Party’s approach to tighter restrictions and vaccine requirements. The race was also a test of whether opposition to former President Donald Trump and his right-wing politics remains a motivating force for Democrats and Independents.

Republicans had hoped for proof that frustrations after months of pandemic precautions would drive voters away from Democrats. They also looked for evidence that voters were tired of the Liberal leadership. Democrats have controlled all levels of government in the state of California for more than a decade, a time marked by a housing crisis and the adverse effects of climate change. Republicans reclaimed four seats in the United States House last year, a success leaders hoped had shown signs of rekindled life.

But a recall election is a flawed barometer – especially of national trends. Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1 in California, so the results may not translate into troubled state governors or reflect how voters will judge members of Congress next year.

Two questions were put to voters: should Newsom be recalled and, if so, who should replace him? Only a handful of the 46 names on the replacement ballot had any level of public recognition, but most failed to gain traction with voters.

Elder held a considerable lead on the second question and seemed almost certain to finish the race with the votes needed to replace Newsom had the recall been a success.

He had entered the race just three months before election day and quickly rose to the front 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 took Elder’s opposition to minimum wage and abortion rights as proof that he was outside the mainstream in California. The governor called it “more extreme than Trump”, while Biden called it “the closest thing to a Trump clone I’ve ever seen.”

Newsom became the second governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall, cementing him as a prominent figure in national Democratic politics and preserving his prospects as a future candidate. Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall in 2012.

While the contest didn’t quite bring the circus element of California’s recall in 2003 – when voters replaced Democratic Governor Gray Davis with Republican movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger – it did showcase its own moments. unusual.

Reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner entered the race but gained little momentum and left the state for part of the campaign to film a reality TV show in Australia. Businessman John Cox, who lost severely to Newsom in 2018, tried to spice up his campaign by hiring a live bear to join him, posing as the “beast” of Newsom’s “beauty”.

Although Newsom defeated the recall, he could soon run again against Elder: the governor is eligible for re-election next year and the primary, which puts candidates from all parties on a single round, is only nine months away. .

The recall started as a project by an amateur political organizer, but intensified as frustrations over the pandemic continued. Organizers of the recall needed around 1.5 million signatures – California has 22 million registered voters – to proceed with the ballot.

The effort was boosted when a judge gave the organizers extra time. Newsom also contributed to a no-mask dinner at the lavish French Laundry restaurant with lobbyists and friends. The episode escalated into a public relations disaster.

Supporters of the recall expressed frustration at the business closures that lasted for months and the restrictions that kept most children from attending class. Rising homicides, a homelessness crisis and an unemployment fraud scandal have further angered critics at Newsom.

But the general public has remained on Newsom’s side. Public Policy Institute of California polls showed its approval rate remained above 50% throughout the pandemic. In a few weeks, the institute’s poll showed that 60% of Californians approved of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic.

In the first few months of his campaign, Newsom said California was “coming back” from the virus, and he used a windfall of taxpayer money to distribute billions of dollars for programs ranging from children’s education to roaming. Middle- and low-income Californians have received checks of up to $ 1,100 each.

The rise of the highly contagious delta variant over the summer dampened Newsom’s positive message, as he began to portray racing as one of the “life and death” consequences. He pointed to Texas and Florida, which were seeing flare-ups worsen as their Republican governors rejected mask and vaccine warrants, as warnings of what could become of California. When Texas’ new law banning most abortions took effect on September 1, Newsom’s comparison to the GOP state only became more striking.

The Newsom administration has forced children to wear masks in schools and demands that all health workers get vaccinated. Teachers and government workers should be vaccinated or tested regularly.

Top party figures came out for Newsom. Beyond Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama have appeared in state or in campaign ads.

National Republican leaders largely kept the contest at bay. Trump barely commented on the race until the last few days, when he suggested with no evidence that the results would be rigged because of the postal vote. One of the early organizers of the recall said his comments would do more harm than good.

In the past few days, Elder’s campaign echoed Trump’s message, saying he expected “shenanigans” and a link to a website hinting that Newsom had already won the election because of fraud. The site included wording from a petition circulated to help Trump’s efforts to overthrow last year’s presidential election, but that wording was removed on Tuesday afternoon.

Newsom has been considered a potential White House candidate since at least 2004, when he defied federal law to issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples as mayor of San Francisco. His victory maintained those prospects, although he will still have to navigate the ambitions of Harris, who came through politics from San Francisco alongside Newsom.

Newsom came to the competition with benefits. The California electorate is less Republican, less white, and younger than it was in 2003, when voters started the Davis Democrat. Newsom was allowed to raise unlimited funds, eclipsing its competition while flooding television screens with advertising. Public worker unions and business and tech leaders poured millions into his campaign.

The GOP had sought to build on its four victories in Congress in 2020 and recruited tens of thousands of additional volunteers to campaign for the recall. Voter turnout and recall results in the four Southern California districts, Orange County and the Los Angeles suburbs will provide a first indication of the party’s ability to hold the seats next year.


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