Thursday, September 16

NEWSOM STAYS: California Gov. survives the recall election that posed the biggest threat yet to his leadership

Insider and Decision Desk HQ are projecting that Gov. Gavin Newsom will survive the California gubernatorial recall. Decision Desk called the race at 8:21 pm PT and 11:21 pm ET. Per this projected call, Newsom will remain governor of California.

California governor recall candidate Larry Elder takes a selfie with a supporter outside of the Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills in Woodland Hills CA., Tuesday, August 24, 2021.

California governor recall candidate Larry Elder was Newsom’s most prominent challenger.

Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

How the recall works and what was at stake:

California is one of 19 states where voters unhappy with the direction of their state can kick their leaders to the curb.

Californians last recalled a governor in 2003, when voters booted former Gov. Gray Davis out of office in favor of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Issues including an energy crisis and rolling blackouts, a controversial car tax, and a sluggish economy following the dot-com bust , dominated that election.

This time around, Republican activists moved to recall Newsom mainly over their disapproval of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and frustration with the administration’s COVID-19 restrictions. Other issues defining the recall include the increasing unaffordability of housing fueling homelessness in the state and extreme weather events like wildfires.

Californians were faced with two questions on the ballot: whether or not to recall Newsom (a simple yes or no), and if so, who to replace him with. The first question failed to receive a simple “yes” majority for Newsom to get the boot. On the second question, the winner to replace him could have won with just a plurality and not a majority of the vote.

There were 46 candidates in the running to replace Newsom if he’s recalled, down from the 135 who ran to replace Davis in 2003.

The leading GOP contender to replace Newsom was talk show host Larry Elder, who has a checkered personal past and long history of making controversial comments on the air. He led other replacement candidates by double-digits in FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages.

Other Republicans running in the recall included former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Cox. Neither the California Republican Party nor national Republicans, however, had attempted to consolidate support around a single candidate.

Reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, and a host of other minor candidates also ran in the recall.

Unlike in 2003, when Davis’ lieutenant governor ran on the second ballot as an “insurance policy,” Democrats chose not to put up a replacement candidate of their own as a fallback, instead urging their supporters to vote “no” on question one and leave question two blank.

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