Voters in the western U.S. state of California have rejected an effort to remove Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom from office.
Nearly 70% of voters overwhelmingly voted “no” in ending Newsom’s tenure early, with just more than 30% voting “yes,” according to figures released shortly after polls closed in the large state late Tuesday night.
The Associated Press, CNN and NBC News are all projecting the recall effort has failed.
Speaking to reporters early Wednesday morning as the results showed him prevailing, Newsom said he was humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote.”
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The recall was launched by Republicans angered over Newsom’s strict COVID-19 rules throughout the pandemic, including school closures and restrictions on small businesses such as bars and restaurants. Organizers secured enough signatures of registered voters to force the recall on the ballot.
Voter opinion surveys in the days leading up to Tuesday’s vote showed Larry Elder, a staunch conservative radio talk show host, was the leading candidate among more than 40 would-be successors to serve out the remainder of Newsom’s term in office, which ends next year.
Newsom equated the recall effort, and especially Elder’s presence on the ballot, to former President Donald Trump, a deeply unpopular figure among Democrats. “We defeated Donald Trump, we didn’t defeat Trumpism. Trumpism is still alive, all across this country,” the governor 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 ending this pandemic,” he said earlier in his remarks.
Newsom is a prominent figure among national Democrats, having previously served as mayor of the city of San Francisco and California lieutenant governor before he was elected governor in 2018. He enlisted the help of several Democratic luminaries in his effort to fight off the recall, including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, a fellow Californian, and former President Barack Obama.
A potential defeat in a state dominated by Democrats could signal major problems for Biden and congressional Democrats heading into next year’s midterm legislative elections.
He is the second California governor to face a recall vote. The first one in 2003 removed Democrat Gray Davis and installed popular Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Some information in this report came from Reuters and the Associated Press.
Published on 2021-09-15