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Gavin Newsom wins California recall election


Gavin Newsom survived a Republican attempt to remove him from office as California’s governor, ensuring that the Democrat can serve out the rest of his term as the top official in the nation’s most populous state, according to an NBC News projection.

With 70% of the expected vote counted Wednesday, Newsom led with 5.8 million, or 63.9%, against removing him from office, compared with 3.3 million, or 36.1%, in favor of the recall.

The polls for in person voting close at 11 p.m. ET Tuesday. For a couple of weeks, voters had already been sending in mail-in ballots.

Newsom thanked voters late Tuesday by saying that “No” was not the only expression of tonight’s feelings.

We said “Yes” to science. “We said yes to vaccines. This pandemic was ended. We voted for the right of all people to vote, without being threatened with voter suppression or fake fraud. He said that we voted for women’s constitutional, fundamental right to choose what happens to her body, her future and fate.”

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The gubernatorial recall effort was the second in California’s history to qualify for the ballot, giving Republicans a chance to seize power in an otherwise deep-blue state.

The voters were asked to vote on two questions. One, if Newsom was recalled, should they replace him? Two, if Newsom does not recall himself, then who among his 46 competitors should be his replacement.

Newsom, who was elected by an overwhelming margin in 2018 to a term that would end in 2023, spent months trying to fend off the Republican-led effort that gained traction last year over allegations that he mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The recall petition was signed by nearly 1.5 million Californians due to dissatisfaction over the state’s health orders, and Newsom’s appearance at a Napa Valley dinner during the peak of Covid cases.

Newsom was the steward for the largest state economy in America. This recall effort was just one of many crises he had to manage in the last year. Fresh data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Covid transmission rates in California are dropping.

According to President Joe Biden’s Wednesday release, Newsom’s win was an affirmation of Democratic leaders’ efforts in fighting the pandemic.

“This vote is a resounding win for the approach that he and I share to beating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely, and strong plans to distribute real medicines — not fake treatments — to help those who get sick,” the president said.

Polling over the summer showed more of a tight race in the recall election but recently shifted in Newsom’s favor.

As they had a huge lead in early mail in ballot returns, his campaign increased turnout among the complacent Democratic voter base.

His opponents had huge financial advantages over him. A $70million campaign war chest was his advantage. He unleashed an anti-recall frenzy with prominent Democrats, such as ex-President Barack Obama, supporting him for a second term. 

Biden gave Newsom a last push Monday, saying at a rally that national results would be felt, influencing the direction of the country on climate change and the pandemic, as well as reproductive rights.

Biden attacked Larry Elder (the Republican front-runner in the election), calling him “a clone” former President Donald Trump.

Larry Elder, Republican candidate for California governor, addresses a party following the loss of the Costa Mesa gubernatorial recall elections, California on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

Getty Images Elder drummed up far more support than any of the challengers vying to succeed Newsom, holding a substantial lead over the rest of the field in recent polling.| Bloomberg | Getty Images

Elder drummed up far more support than any of the challengers vying to succeed Newsom, holding a substantial lead over the rest of the field in recent polling. Trump’s lies about voter fraud during the 2020 election, which he claimed was widespread, was repeated by Elder, who also promised to reverse the vaccinations and mandates for masks. He set the foundations for misinformation regarding the recall elections.

There were 45 additional candidates that did not win support from voters. Caitlyn Jenner (a former reality television personality and Olympic athlete) is one of the Republican candidates. John Cox has also traveled with a Kodiak bear to campaign events.

As for Democratic candidates, Hollywood actor Patrick Kilpatrick and YouTube millionaire Kevin Paffrath ran to succeed Newsom.

— CNBC’s Christine Wang contributed to this report.