Gavin Newsom Survives Conservative-Led Recall Efforts

On September 14, California Governor Gavin Newsom emerged victorious in a recall election aiming to remove the governor for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supported by a blue tide of Democratic mail-in ballots, Newsom was ahead by 30 points with over two-thirds of ballots counted. Spurred by the governor’s policies on immigration, attempts to recall Newsom began after his inauguration in 2018. Despite being a fringe movement in its beginnings, the idea of a recall gained momentum during the pandemic due to Newsom’s aggressive pandemic policies, including anti-eviction laws and restrictions on the state’s economy. Challenging the incumbent were various conservative campaigns, including radio talk show host Larry Elder and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, that hoped to capitalize on voter frustration with lengthy business closures and backlash following a scandal in which Newsom was caught dining unmasked with lobbyists in an upscale restaurant, in violation of his own restrictions. However, public fears over a surge in COVID-19 cases have caused many voters in the overwhelmingly blue state to back Newsom’s aggressive mandates. With state-wide cases of the new Delta variant climbing, the governor’s victory will keep him at the helm of California for the remainder of his tenure.