California voters retain Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

By Ballotpedia staff

California voters retained Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in the recall election Tuesday night. With 68% of precincts partially reporting, 63.8% voted to retain Newsom while 36.1% voted to recall Newsom. A majority vote was required to recall Newsom.

Among the replacement candidates, Larry Elder (R) received the largest share of the votes at 47% followed by Kevin Paffrath (D) at 10%. 

The recall election presented voters with two questions. The first asked whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second asked who should succeed Newsom if he was recalled. If Newsome had been recalled, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would have won the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls before the election were YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), businessman and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer> (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Recall supporters said Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In a March 2021 response, Newsom called the effort a “Republican recall — backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.” Newsom was elected governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger> (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.

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