Newsom Easily Survives Recall
The flake beat the weirdo.
While it looked like California Governor Gavin Newsom might be recalled and replaced by conservative talk show host Larry Elder as recently as a month ago, it looks like voters chose nearly two to one to stick with the devil they knew.
NPR (“Gov. Newsom Keeps His Seat After A Majority Of California Voters Reject The Recall“):
The attempt to recall California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has failed, according to a call by the Associated Press, allowing the governor to stay in office until at least 2023.
Tuesday ends a campaign against Newsom that began before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S.
“I am humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote,” Newsom said Tuesday night, speaking, almost somberly, to a group of reporters. “We [have] so much more in common in our state than we give ourselves credit for,” he added, expressing how difficult life has been for Californians during the pandemic.
The governor’s victory serves to vindicate his leadership of the state through COVID-19, but he won’t be off the campaign trail for long. He’ll have to run for reelection next year if he wants to keep his seat after his term ends.
This recall petition was one of six circulated by the governor’s opponents to remove him since he took office in January 2019.
Getting the vote to the ballot took an unlikely synchronization of political fortune and Newsom’s own missteps. Last year, a judge gave the recall campaign an additional four months to collect signatures, citing the difficulties in distributing petitions during the pandemic. Later that day, Newsom dined at the upscale French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, ignoring his own guidance to avoid gatherings as the spread of the coronavirus picked up.
The dinner became the enduring symbol of the recall campaign and fodder for the most convincing attack against the governor: that he failed to practice what he preached.
Instead of waiting for the 2022 gubernatorial election, thousands of the governor’s detractors signed petitions to put Newsom’s fate on the ballot this year.
The resurgence of the virus also allowed Newsom to draw his clearest contrast between the candidates hoping to replace him, most notably conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder, who conceded the race late Tuesday local time.
Ultimately, the vote wasn’t so much an endorsement of Newsom but a rejection of Elder. Understandably, a rather progressive state preferred to keep a hypocritical liberal Democrat rather than be governed by a pro-Trump, conspiracy theorist.
Newsom announced in late July vaccine mandates for California state employees, health care workers and school staff, along with a mask requirement for school children — orders that Elder promised to revoke on day one if elected.
But Elder’s emergence as the clear favorite on the ballot’s second question — who should replace Newsom if he’s recalled? — allowed the governor to turn the race from a referendum into a choice. The governor spent the final days of the campaign slamming Elder’s conservative positions on climate policy, abortion and minimum wage.
Elder has been a vocal supporter of former President Trump and, in response, Democrats linked the recall effort to Trumpism and to the national Republican agenda on issues like reproductive rights and voting access.
Elder, like the former president, has claimed, without any evidence, that Trump lost last year’s election to election fraud. “There are all sort of reasons the 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans,” Elder said earlier this month. “And my fear is they’re going to try that in this election in the recall.”
Whether allowing a tiny minority of citizens to force a recall of a governor or other elected officials is a good idea is debatable. But California’s system, wherein a recalled politician is replaced by the plurality winner, regardless of how few votes they received, is nuts. They should certainly reform it if they want to keep it.