In what a reporter on the scene described as a “carefully orchestrated appearance,” students from an Oakland elementary school gave California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom the rock star treatment the day after he survived a recall attempt to oust him from office.
A staff photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle captured images of a masked Newsom outside of Melrose Leadership Academy on Wednesday as he was mobbed by masked schoolkids seeking autographs.
Students at Melrose Leadership Academy greet Gov. Newsom during a school visit in Oakland, California — a day after he survived the recall election.
More on what's next for Newsom: https://t.co/W8ua4akjc5 pic.twitter.com/kApKBF3bq2
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) September 15, 2021
Newsom, 53, said he felt “enlivened” and “energized” after his projected landslide victory on Tuesday night.
As The Chronicle reported: “He was not, however, a man who appeared to emerge from the experience transformed by the dissatisfaction with his leadership that fueled the recall effort. Newsom sounded ready, if anything, to double down on his current approach.”
“It sharpens your focus about time,” Newsom said. “Things that you may have looked at on the rise and said, over the next two, three years, we want to get this done, you start looking at very differently and saying, well, what’s possible in the next two or three months?”
The recall effort gained momentum last year after the pandemic emerged and Newsom’s restrictive COVID-19 policies, including mask mandates for public schools, went into effect. But on Wednesday, California became the only state to move out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” transmission category, and the governor bragged that the Golden State “leads the nation with the lowest COVID case rate.”
“Our students are back together in the classroom safely thanks to the progress we’ve made together,” Newsom tweeted, along with a video of himself from the school’s playground spinning a basketball on his index finger like a Harlem Globetrotter.
CA leads the nation with the lowest COVID case rate. Our students are back together in the classroom safely thanks to the progress we’ve made together.
Great to be in Oakland today visiting students at Melrose Leadership Academy — we even got to play a little basketball 🙂 pic.twitter.com/wYk3YzlJ6Z
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 16, 2021
More of Newsom’s critics in California and across the country are beginning to realize that the recall campaign could backfire.
Kevin Kiley, a Republican state assemblyman who ran to replace Newsom, warned before the election, “Newsom says surviving the Recall will give him a ‘mandate.’ Make no mistake, he means a mandate for more mandates.”
This is correct (though absurd given Newsom’s HUGE advantages). And it was always my worst fear for the recall, which is now going to come true… https://t.co/6AEXUHhzQR
— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) September 12, 2021
Newsom campaign strategist Sean Clegg said the governor’s team used vaccine mandates as “the core contrast in the election.”
GOP frontrunner Larry Elder, who said he had been immunized against COVID-19 and “believe vaccines work,” had promised to suspend Newsom’s statewide mask and vaccine mandates if elected and vowed to fight local orders.
The governor’s anti-recall committee branded his Republican opposition as “anti-vax” MAGA enthusiasts, a strategy The Associated Press said distorted their positions. Still, Democrats and independents rallied around Newsom in the campaign’s final stretch, largely because of his pandemic response.
“I hope what we’ve shown Democrats…is to embrace [mandates] as a partisan question, put up our dukes and get Republicans on the wrong side of the fence on this thing,” Clegg told CNN.
More than 5.8 million voters voted “no” to recall Newsom, which accounted for almost 64% of the vote counted on Thursday morning. The Mercury News points out, “Newsom won the day in once-Republican Southern California strongholds like Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.”
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued a statement calling Newsom’s victory “a resounding win for the approach that he and I share to beating the pandemic,” specifying “strong vaccine requirements.”
“The fact that voters in both traditionally Democratic and traditionally Republican parts of the state rejected the recall shows that Americans are unifying behind taking steps to get the pandemic behind us.”