Who won the 2021 Gavin Newsom California recall election?
Californians went to the ballot on Tuesday to decide whether to keep Gov Newsom or give the office to Trump-like replacement. Their choice was resounding
Californians went to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether Governor Gavin Newsom should be recalled or stay in office. He handily rode to victory with an “overwhelmingly ‘No’ vote” apparent from early on in the night boosted by a large turnout in the deep blue state.
The top contender to replace him, Larry Elder, who had made baseless accusations of voter fraud prior to votes being cast, conceded the race shortly after it was called for Governor Newsom without a word about any irregularities. However, he left the door open for another run at the governorship next year when Governor Newsom’s first term ends.
The landslide recall victory looked to be in peril
Although the result of the 2021 California recall election was apparent shortly after the polls closed, just a couple weeks ago the governor’s fate looked like it was up in the air according to surveys. The campaign to oust Governor Newsom failed to grab many people’s attention. And even in a deep blue state, Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, low voter turnout could have meant the end of Governor Newsom’s time in the office.
Two factors changed the tide for Governor Newsom, closer inspection of the candidate that would’ve replaced him and Democratic party bigwigs stepping into the fray.
The candidate “to the right of Trump”
Larry Elder, a conservative talk radio host, came to the recall race late but shot to the head of the pack immediately. Past controversial statements he had made and new ones during the campaign energized Democrats in the state. Elder would have been the polar opposite of Newsom and he gave the governor an easy target to focus voters thoughts on simply voting “No” to the recall.
Governor Newsom’s campaign was able to use Elder to equate a “Yes” vote in the recall to mean electing "a pro-Trump, anti-vaccine Republican who was going to reverse the mandates on day one." He put forth prior to the election baseless claims that there would be “shenanigans”, which were parroted by former President Trump. In his concession speech he made no mention of them, the former President kept playing the same tune he has since his own defeat.
Party bigwigs come to Governor Newsom’s aid
At the beginning of September, the recall election took on a national scope with worries about the health of Senator Diane Feinstein, she’s currently 88. She has no plans to step down, but if she were, a hypothetical Governor Elder would be able to name her replacement. Such a scenario would have given Republicans control of the Senate again.
A brighter national spotlight was put on the recall election when big names in the Democratic party started actively campaigning for the “No” vote. Governor Newsom was able to call on the help of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden who helped drive home what was at stake in the election.