LOS ANGELES — California Governor Gavin Newsom easily defeated Republican efforts to oust him in a recall election on Tuesday night, putting him in the driver’s seat to win re-election in 2022.
Newsom was declared the winner just 38 minutes after the polls closed in the state, with “no” to recall leading the vote with 67 percent of the vote. The governor will now keep his job and the outlook is bright for his re-election in 2022.
“No is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said after the results came in. “I want to focus on what we said yes to as a state. We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic.”
“I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Americans who exercised their fundamental right to vote and expressed themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism, by rejecting so much of the negativity that’s defined our politics in this country,” he added.
Several exit polls suggested the coronavirus pandemic was the key issue for many Californians over homelessness, wildfires, crime, and the economy. 69 percent said they supported Newsom’s mask mandates and 24 percent said the pandemic was getting worse in the state.
As of this writing, the win for Newsom is expected to win in a blowout. He’s leading with 66.7% of the vote compared to 33.5% voting to recall him.
In the lead up to the election, “keep Newsom” never fell below 47 percent and Elder never secured 30 percent of the vote among the long list of Republican candidates.
President Joe Biden campaigned on behalf of Newsom on Monday, comparing Elder to former President Donald Trump.
“All of you know last year I got to run against the real Donald Trump,” Biden said. “Well, this year, the leading Republican running for governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone that I have ever seen.”
Trump himself has been releasing false statements about how “millions and millions of mail-in ballots will make this just another giant election scam,” claiming, as he did in the 2020 elections, without evidence that the process is rigged.
Elder and the other 45 candidates now plan to claim the election results are rigged, with the conservative radio show saying so before any votes were counted. Taking a page out of Trump’s playbook, Elder posted on his website for supporters to keep an eye out for voter fraud.
“Democracy is not a football. You don’t throw it around,” Newsom said Tuesday night. “We may have defeated Trump, but Trumpism is not dead in this country, the Big Lie, the January 6th insurrection… it’s a remarkable moment in our nation’s history.”
Elder took the stage just after 10 P.M. Tuesday, conceding the race.
“The reason we started this campaign was that this man, Gov. Gavin Newsom, was sitting at the French Laundry restaurant, with lobbyists who contributed to his campaign,” Elder said.
“Let’s be gracious in defeat,” he added. “We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.”
This story has been updated with additional information.