California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom was projected to cruise to victory and defeat a recall effort Tuesday night – avoiding the ignominy of becoming the second chief executive of the Golden State to be removed from office by voters before the completion of his term in under 20 years.
With 59 percent of the expected vote in, the “no” response to the ballot question of whether Newsom should be recalled had 67.4 percent of the vote while the “yes” response had 32.6 percent.
The final margin was expected to be closer as more votes were counted, but not be nearly close enough to trouble the incumbent.
Had Newsom been recalled, Republican candidate and longtime radio talk show host Larry Elder would have been in line to become the state’s next governor. Elder, the self-described “Sage of South Central” who was attacked while he toured a Venice homeless encampment last week, received 42.6 percent of the vote of those who chose a potential replacement for Newsom.
The next closest competitor, Democrat Kevin Paffrath, received just 11 percent of the vote, followed by former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (9.8 percent of the vote). No other potential Newsom replacement received more than 5 percent support.
Support for Newsom remaining in office had grown in the weeks before polling day as national Democrats ramped up their efforts to ensure that the governor would not be cast out prematurely in a state where Democrats hold a two-to-one advantage in voter registration over Republicans.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris stumped on Newsom’s behalf in recent days, with Biden making the closing pitch to voters at a rally in Long Beach.
The president compared Elder, who he did not mention by name, to Republican governors who have opposed mask and vaccine mandates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – an effort to bolster Newsom’s record on the very issue that accelerated the recall campaign last year.
“On COVID-19, Gavin Newsom has had the courage to lead, to stand up for science,” Biden said, adding that “he’s been one of the leading governors in the nation, protecting people and vaccinating his state.”
“Look folks, we don’t need politics in this battle against COVID,” the president added. “We need science, we need courage, we need leadership, we need Gavin Newsom.”