California Gov. Gavin Newsom Staves Off Recall Effort, Early Results Point To Resounding Win
California Gov. Gavin Newsom beat back an effort to recall him from office on Wednesday evening, the Associated Press projected less than an hour after the vote-counting began, with Newsom on track to win by a resounding margin.
With 67% of the total votes counted, the ‘No’ vote leads by a sizable 28.4 point margin.
Speaking in Sacremento after the election was called, Newsom said he was humbled and grateful for the result and thanked Californians for rejecting “division” and “cynicism.”
Newsom’s win makes him the second governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt after former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2012.
Conservative radio host Larry Elder led the now inconsequential race to replace Newsom if he had been recalled with more than 46% of the vote—nearly 40 points ahead of the next closest candidates—Democratic YouTuber Kevin Paffrath and Republican former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
That Elder looked to be the overwhelming frontrunner in the replacement field going into Wednesday was likely a leading contributor to the size of Newsom’s victory, with early exit polls showing around half of California voters view Elder unfavorably.
Reality star and Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, whose campaign rollout garnered considerable attention due to her high profile, had about 1% of the vote with 60% of precincts reporting, putting her 12th out of 46 candidates. The most memorable moment of Jenner’s campaign was when she took a trip to Australia in July to appear on the reality show Celebrity Big Brother. In an interview with the Washington Post earlier this week Jenner criticized Elder, stating: “He was kind of the gift that Democrats needed to attack right now and I feel in a lot of ways that [Elder] has only helped Gavin Newsom with this recall.”
“No is not the only thing we said tonight. We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.,” Newsom said in speech in Sacremento after various media outlets called the election.
What To Watch For
Larry Elder conceded the race late on Tuesday but asked his supporters to “stay tuned,” indicating a future run for the office. Speaking infront of a cheering crowd of supporters Elder said “we may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.” Newsom is set to face reelection next year and there has been some speculation that Elder might run against him on a Republican ticket.
Newsom is the second governor in California to face a recall election after Democrat Gray Davis was ousted from office in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The recall effort against Newsom began just months after he took office in 2019. But the Republican-led effort gathered steam after Covid-19 began to sweep California last year. Newsom’s handling of the pandemic was questioned, particularly after Newsom held an indoor dinner that went against the state’s Covid-19 recommendations. The recall election was ultimately called in July after the effort managed to gather enough signatures to trigger a vote.
Newsom Survives California Recall Vote and Will Remain Governor (New York Times)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom stays in power as recall fails (Associated Press)