News and Commentary

California Gov. Newsom Projected To Beat Recall Attempt In Landslide
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Less than an hour after the polls closed in California on Tuesday night, multiple news outlets projected that the campaign to recall California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom had failed, and he would remain in office.

By 9 pm PT, CBS News, NBC News, and The Associated Press had projected that an overwhelming majority of Californians decided that Newsom was the best option. When the AP estimated that 60% of ballots had been counted, the “no” vote opposing Newsom’s recall led with 66.79% (5,428,113 votes), while 33.21% (2,718,614) wanted the governor to go.

The certified count is not expected until October 22.

Ballots were sent to all of California’s 22 million registered voters, who were asked two questions. First, voters were asked if Newsom shall be recalled. Then, the second question asked who should replace Newsom if he were to be recalled.

Leading Republican candidate Larry Elder, a conservative radio host, had the most votes among Newsom’s potential replacements early on, when Newsom briefly reacted to the projections predicting his victory.

“’No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom told reporters on Tuesday night. “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. We said ‘yes’ to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression. We said ‘yes’ to women’s fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body and her fate and future.”

Elder said the election attracted the attention of national Democrats and their donors who were focused on preventing the GOP from taking control of the U.S. Senate. California’s senior Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, is 88-year-old. The chamber is equally divided between the two parties, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

VP Harris campaigned with Newsom last week, and President Joe Biden appeared at a rally on Monday to stump for him. In addition, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and former President Barack Obama appeared in television spots paid for by Newsom’s anti-recall committee.

Newsom launched his committee, called “Stop the Republican Recall,” in March. It was supported by several deep-pocketed Democratic donors, including Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, New York-based billionaire philanthropist George Soros, and organized labor. The group launched an ad  in the final stretch that inundated California airwaves and branded Newsom’s GOP opponents, particularly Elder, as “anti-vax” MAGA enthusiasts.

“Here’s what you need to know about the September 14th recall,” the ad said. “Voting yes elects an anti-vaccine Trump Republican.”

According to The Associated Press, Newsom was “taking liberties with broad-brush strokes that distort his opponents’ positions.” All of Newsom’s leading Republican opponents had made clear they had been vaccinated but were against government orders forcing people to get the shots. Elder had vowed to suspend statewide vaccination and mask mandates and promised to fight local orders.

Under state rules, Newsom’s committee had no donation limits. The Los Angeles Times reported that “anti-recall forces” supporting Newsom raised at least $82 million.

However, contributions to individual candidates running to replace Newsom were capped at $32,400 per donor. Elder’s campaign raised the most of Newsom’s opponents, reporting more than $13.8 million.

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