California Governor Gavin Newsom easily retains job, sweeps election

Reuters
Los Angeles, US Published: Sep 15, 2021, 08:15 PM(IST)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Key to Newsom's success was an all-out campaign to mobilize a Democratic base that had initially been sleepy, assuming that the governor would win because the state is so overwhelmingly Democratic.

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom handily beat back an effort to oust him from office in Tuesday's (September 14) special election, overcoming a Republican campaign to unseat him over his liberal policies on immigration, COVID-19 and crime. 

Newsom, a first-term governor beset by challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme drought and severe wildfires, boosted turnout among Democrats with a flurry of late campaigning and easily overcame the move by Republicans to recall him. 

By late Tuesday, returns showed Newsom easily winning a majority of support from voters who said he should remain in office. With 46% of precincts reporting, Newsom was up by more than 30 points, with 67% support compared to 33% who wanted to recall him, state data showed.

US television networks projected Newsom had defeated the recall effort about 40 minutes after polls closed on Tuesday.

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The decisive win significantly bolsters Newsom's chances in next year's regularly scheduled gubernatorial elections, while weakening any likely Republican challengers, said Republican political strategist Mike Madrid.

Key to Newsom's success was an all-out campaign to mobilize a Democratic base that had initially been sleepy, assuming that the governor would win because the state is so overwhelmingly Democratic.

He made the campaign a referendum on former Republican US President Donald Trump, linking Trump with his main challenger in the recall election, Larry Elder, a Republican talk show host who had made controversial statements about minorities and women.

Other Republicans in the race included San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman and former gubernatorial nominee John Cox and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.

In the final days of the race, Newsom appeared alongside President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who formerly represented California as a U.S. senator and attorney general.

Elder has vowed to remove requirements for COVID-19 vaccines and mask wearing. In the days leading up to the recall vote, he and Trump pushed the narrative that Democrats planned to steal the election.

The removal of Newsom, who was elected in a landslide in 2018, would have set off alarms among Democrats, coming in one of the nation's most liberal states just over a year before the 2022 elections that will decide control of Congress.

Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in the state, and polls consistently showed that a strong majority of voters opposed recalling Newsom.

But Democrats worried that complacency among their voters could have tilted the election toward Republicans. Newsom's immigration and crime policies - along with the governor's handling of the pandemic - fuelled the petition drive by conservatives to put the recall question on the ballot.

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