Voters in the western US state of California overwhelmingly rejected attempts to oust Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
With nearly two-thirds of the expected votes counted, Newsom was beating the Republican-led recall effort by a 64-to-36% margin early Wednesday. He can now serve his remaining four-year term that ends in early 2023, although he plans to run for re-election next year.
In Tuesday’s election, a majority of voters voted “no”, saying Newsom should not be withdrawn. This raised another question on the ballot: Who would replace Newsom if the majority wanted him out?
Had Newsom lost the recall vote in a heavily Democratic state, Larry Elder, a conservative radio talk show host and supporter of former Republican President Donald Trump, would have become governor because, by law, Newsom, 53, could not be in the middle. . List of possible options for changing yourself. Elder led 46 other candidates, most of whom were Republicans.
Newsom is the second California governor in 18 years to face a recall vote. In 2003, voters removed Democrat Gray Davis and installed popular Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.
Newsom is also the second US governor to avoid a recall vote in nine years. In 2012, Scott Walker, the conservative governor in the midwestern state of Wisconsin, defeated a recall vote, but ultimately lost a re-election bid in 2018.
Recall elections are common in California, America’s most populous state, in which voters angered by the performance of elected government officials can petition to have an official recalled before their term ends. As with Newsom, several municipal officials in the state faced recall votes on Tuesday.
The recall effort against Newsom was launched by Republicans who protested his strict COVID-19 rules during the coronavirus pandemic, including school closures and restrictions on small businesses such as bars and restaurants.
Newsom didn’t help his political situation when he ignored one of his coronavirus orders and dined without masks or social distancing at an upscale restaurant in a California wine-growing region last year. Later, anti-Newsom organizers obtained enough signatures of registered voters to force a recall ballot.
As the result became clear late Tuesday, Newsom told supporters, “‘No is not the only thing that was expressed tonight. We said yes to science, yes to vaccines, yes to ending this pandemic. ”
Weeks ago, voter polls showed a close vote on whether Newsom should be recalled. But with doubts over his fate, Democrats rallied around him, and he campaigned tirelessly.
Prominent national Democratic figures, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, visited the state to voice their support at political rallies, while former President Barack Obama appeared in a Newsom television ad.
WATCH: California Elections
Elder easily overtook the other challengers by winning nearly 47% of the vote on the question of who should replace Newsom if he was recalled. In a concession speech early Wednesday, Elder urged his supporters to “be condescending in defeat.”
But he teased a potential race against Newsom in 2022, saying, “We may have lost the battle, but we’re going to win the war.”
Newsom equated the recall effort and especially the presence of Elder, a deeply unpopular figure among California Democrats, to support for Trump.
“We beat Donald Trump, we didn’t beat Trumpism,” Newsom said. “Trumpism is still alive across the country.”
Newsom is a prominent figure among national Democrats, having previously served as lieutenant governor of the city of San Francisco and California before being elected governor in 2018.