Gavin Newsom withstood an intense recall effort and retained his position as California governor with a projected 67.5% of Californians voting to allow him to continue to serve till the end of his term in January 2023.
The Associated Press called Gavin Newsom’s victory at 8:46 p.m. PDT.
His victory marks the end of an almost 20-month long recall effort led by Republicans. The petition was first circulated in February 2020 after public frustration over the state’s homelessness rate, the high tax rate, immigration laws and Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recall gained traction in November 2020, not long after Newsom pleaded with the public to stay home to avoid COVID and photos surfaced of Newsom dining maskless surrounded by lobbyists in one of the most expensive restaurants in the country, The French Laundry.
“It just shows who the people of California want to stand with. This is the first time I’ve seen a governor trying to get recalled,” said USC freshman Bennie Andon. “I was happy that Gavin Newsom didn’t get recalled just because of all the potential candidates that I just think were unfit and didn’t have prior experience in running a state of such a big demographic.”
Petitions against Newsom reached over 2 million Californian signatures, well over the 1.5 million organizers needed to collect — 12% of the votes cast when Newsom was first elected in 2018.
Newsom raised over $70 million to support his campaign and dominated the media with advertisements overshadowing his competitors.
These advertisements featured notable Democrats including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former President Barack Obama. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also visited the state to campaign for Newsom.
Most of Newsom’s advertisements targeted the governor’s 46 opponents, the most prominent being Larry Elder.
Many of Elder’s views could not clash more with the average Democrat. They account for nearly double the number of Republicans in California. Elder is staunchly anti-abortion, and is against teaching sex-ed in public schools.
He stated that he would not pursue a vaccine mandate for the state of California if elected.
Elder said that he would not commit to accepting the election results if he should lose. Former President Donald Trump also said in a statement to his Save America PAC that the recall process was unfair, saying “Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn’t rigged?”
Native Californian and USC sophomore Andres Garcia didn’t agree with the recall effort to begin with.
“It was just the Republicans being mad, at least in my opinion,” Garcia said. “They aren’t in power in this state and it was a desperate attempt in trying to remove Newsom. He isn’t the best governor, but he’s pretty okay. But like, thank God. Because I was worried.”
Rianna Rios, a USC junior, was relieved by the results of the election.
“I’m very happy with the outcome. One thing that was fearful for me if he didn’t pass was that once you have someone new in office – it’s chaos,” Rios said. “We have a new term coming up anyway and in a matter of months, a lot of negative impact could have been done.”
After the results were announced, Newsom addressed the state in a press conference aired Tuesday night.
“I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of California for exercising their fundamental right to vote,” Newsom said. “We are so much more in common as a state and a nation than we give ourselves credit for.”
Update: We edited this story to add context around the procedure of the recall election.