California voters missed the call to recall Gov. Newsom


Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Jason Galak

Much like former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom faced a recall challenge. With Newsom still governor, the one chance Republicans had to make California’s governor red is now gone, or at least for quite some time.

Newsom has continued to make a mockery of his position, and California as a whole, whether by defying his own mandates to attend an indoor birthday party during lockdowns in November 2020 or keeping the winery that he had a financial stake in open while thousands of California businesses were forced to shut down. Perhaps even the rising rates of homicide, homelessness and other issues related to the quality of life in California can be included as well.

Newsom has time and time again proven that he is unfit to be governor.

The recall process originally started in February 2020 when Orrin Heatlie, a retired sheriff sergeant, along with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, created a recall petition due to his disagreement with Newsom’s views on immigration and the moratorium on the death penalty.

Obviously, in a deeply blue state like California, this petition wouldn’t get very far. However, it began to gain bipartisan momentum when Newsom violated his pandemic lockdowns and mandates.

Republicans jumped on this state-wide criticism of Newsom and the movement to recall Newsom gained such traction that in early August, a FiveThirtyEight poll showed an extremely thin margin of +0.2 that Newsom could keep his position as governor.

Things looked very decent for Republicans — until Larry Elder, a conservative radio talk show host from California became the Republican favorite to replace Newsom.

Elder has previously advocated for not having a minimum wage, which in a state like California would not get anyone elected.

As soon as Elder became the clear alternative for the seat, Newsom’s chances for keeping his seat rose dramatically. Californians don’t like Newsom, but not enough to replace him with a far-right Republican governor.

Nevertheless, there was still fear among Democrats, considering that the recall ballot did get enough signatures to trigger a recall election. Even President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had to make a trip to California to rally against the recall.

“You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you’ll get Donald Trump. It’s not a joke. Don’t take anything for granted,” Biden said on the day before voting concluded.

Additionally, Newsom received some generous donations from many of his wealthy friends. This includes $3 million from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, $2.7 million from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, as well as an overall contribution of $1 million from billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros.

Democrats claimed that this recall was a partisan effort to seize power, initiated by right-wing Republicans, including those on the side of former President Donald Trump, to overturn Newsom’s election.

Newsom and the Democrats successfully turned a campaign about local issues into one about national issues by tying Elder and the Republican party as close to Trump as possible.

The recall election ballot contained two questions.

The first question was “Shall Gavin Newsom be removed from the office of Governor?” The second question asked voters to choose which candidate should replace Newsom, followed by a list of all 46 candidates, not including Newsom.

Although Democrats outnumbered Republicans 2-1 in California, Republicans were fired up to run to the polls to recall Newsom. This begs the question of whether a decent number of Democrats would leave their house and vote in a recall ballot to save Newsom.

Turns out, they did. Newsom is projected to keep his position as governor with 62.7% of voters voting in favor of him staying and only 37.3% voting to recall him..

Ultimately, there were several things to learn from this recent recall election on both the Republican and the Democratic wings. Democrats will crawl over glass to the polling booths to make sure that a Trump-like politician is not elected.