SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday became the second governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall that aimed to oust him early, a contest the Democratic governor crafted. As part of the national battle for his party’s values. in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the persistent threats of “Trumpism.”
The victory establishes Newsom as a prominent figure in national Democratic politics and preserves his prospects for a future career in the United States. It also ensures that the nation’s most populous state will remain under Democratic control as a laboratory for progressive policies on immigration, climate change, representation and inequality.
“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom told a news conference. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ as a state: we said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to end this pandemic.”
A Republican would almost certainly have replaced Newsom had the impeachment succeeded, bringing a polar opposite political worldview, although they would have had to contend with a Democratic-dominated state Capitol.
The recall, which focused on Newsom’s focus on the pandemic, reflected the nation’s heated political divide over business closures and mask and vaccine mandates, and both sides will analyze their outcome heading into the mid-term elections. 2022 period.
President Joe Biden sought validation of the Democratic Party’s approach to stricter restrictions and vaccine requirements, urging Californians to show the nation that “leadership matters, science matters.” 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.
“We defeated Donald Trump, we did not defeat Trumpism. Trumpism is still alive throughout the country, ”Newsom said while campaigning in a state that the former president lost by 29 percentage points.
Republicans hoped to have proof that the frustrations of months of pandemic precautions would alienate voters from Democrats. They also looked for evidence that voters were growing weary of liberal leadership. Democrats have controlled all levels of government in California for more than a decade, a period marked by a housing crisis and the increasingly damaging effects of climate change. Republicans regained four seats in the US House of Representatives last year, a success that leaders hoped would have indicated revived signs of life.
But a recall election is an imperfect barometer, particularly of national trends. Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1 in California, so the results may not reflect on state governors confused or reflect how voters will judge members of Congress next year. That the unusual contest took place in late summer meant that some voters weren’t even tuned in.
Voters were asked two questions: Should Newsom retire, 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 attract voters.
Conservative radio host Larry Elder had a commanding lead on the second question and it seemed almost certain that he would finish the race with the necessary votes to have replaced Newsom had the impeachment been successful.
He had entered the race just three months before Election Day and quickly rose to the top of the pack. But that allowed Newsom to turn the campaign into a choice between the two men, rather than a referendum on their performance.
Newsom seized on Elder’s opposition to minimum wage and abortion rights as evidence that he was outside of California’s mainstream. The governor called him “more extreme than Trump,” while Biden called him “the closest thing to a Trump clone I’ve ever seen.”
Although the pageant didn’t bring the circus element of California’s impeachment in 2003, when voters replaced Democratic Governor Gray Davis with Republican movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, it featured wacky moments of its own.
Reality star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner entered the race, but gained little momentum and left the state to participate in part of the campaign to film a reality show in Australia. Entrepreneur John Cox, who lost a lot to Newsom in 2018, tried to spice up his campaign by hiring a live bear to join him, calling himself Newsom’s “beast” of “beauty.” The best-known Democrat on the replacement ballot was a 29-year-old YouTube star who provides financial advice to his followers.
Although Newsom defeated the impeachment, he may soon be running against Elder again: The governor is set for reelection next year, and the primaries, which include candidates from all parties on a single ballot, are only nine months away. .
The withdrawal, initiated by an amateur political organizer, was not the first attempt to overthrow Newsom, and it began as an expression of frustration over the control of the ruling Democrats. But when Newsom issued the first state stay-at-home order in the entire state, the pandemic became the driving force behind the race.
Organizers of the recall needed about 1.5 million signatures (California has 22 million registered voters) to vote. They owe their success in part to a single day in November, when a judge gave them an additional four months to collect signatures due to the pandemic.
That same day, Newsom attended a birthday party with friends and lobbyists at the posh French Laundry restaurant, a gathering that violated his anti-pandemic rules. The episode turned into a public relations disaster.
Supporters of the recall expressed frustration over months of business closures, restrictions that kept most kids in distance learning for a full academic year, and the confusing patchwork of rules governing how people could meet with. friends and family. Rising homicides, an ongoing homeless crisis and an unemployment fraud scandal further enraged Newsom’s critics.
But the general public stood by Newsom’s side. Polls from the California Institute of Public Policy showed that his approval rating remained above 50% during the pandemic. With weeks to go, the institute’s poll showed 60% of Californians approved of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic.
In the first months of his campaign, Newsom declared that California was “on the mend” from the virus, and used a windfall of tax dollars to dole billions on programs from early childhood education to the homeless. Low- and middle-income Californians received checks of up to $ 1,100 each.
The emergence of the highly contagious delta variant during the summer clouded Newsom’s positive messages as he began to frame the race as one of the “life and death” consequences. He pointed to Texas and Florida, which were seeing a surge as their Republican governors rejected the mask and vaccine mandates as warnings about what California could become. When the new Texas law banning most abortions took effect on Sept. 1, Newsom’s comparison to the Republican state became stark.
The Newsom administration has mandated that children wear masks in schools and requires all healthcare workers to be vaccinated. Teachers and government employees should be vaccinated or tested regularly. Ace Smith, one of Newsom’s political advisers, said before the race ended that he believed it would provide Newsom – and the Democratic Party – with a “clear mandate” of “sanity” in public health.
The main luminaries of the party joined Newsom, highlighting what is at stake at the national level. Beyond Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama appeared in state or campaign ads to help Newsom increase turnout.
National Republican leaders largely kept the contest at a distance. Trump barely commented on the race until recent days, when he suggested without evidence that the results would be rigged due to the vote-by-mail. One of the original organizers of the retreat said his comments would do more harm than good.
In recent days, Elder’s campaign echoed Trump’s messages, saying he expects “shenanigans” and linking to a website that hints that Newsom had already won the election due to fraud. The site included the text of a petition that was circulated to aid Trump’s effort to overturn last year’s presidential election, but that wording was removed Tuesday afternoon.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, once considered the party’s best hope for regaining state office given his track record in a Democratic city, was unable to find his niche among voters, struggling to attract both the party base and to the electorate in general. Elder immediately caught the attention of the party’s conservative ranks, but also alienated independents and Democrats who may have considered voting against Newsom.
Newsom has been seen as a potential candidate for the White House since at least 2004, when he defied federal law to issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples as mayor of San Francisco. His victory kept those prospects, although he will still have to sort the ambitions of Harris, who emerged in San Francisco politics alongside Newsom.
Newsom entered the contest with advantages: it was his whether he won or lost. California’s electorate is less Republican, less white, and younger than it was in 2003, when voters ousted Democrat Davis. Newsom was allowed to raise unlimited funds, dwarfing his competitors as he inundated television screens with advertisements. Public workers unions and business and technology executives invested millions in his campaign.
The Republican Party had sought to build on its four victories in Congress in 2020 and recruited tens of thousands more volunteers to campaign for retirement. Voter turnout and recall results in the four Southern California districts, in Orange County and the Los Angeles suburbs, will offer an early indication of the party’s ability to fill seats next year.
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