Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a recall effort on Tuesday and said he was “humbled” and “grateful” for voters who threw their support behind “all those things we hold dear as Californians.”
As early returns were released Tuesday night, the question of whether Newsom should be recalled was met with a resounding “no,” with nearly 70% of early ballots rejecting the move.
As more returns were tallied, Newsom maintained support of roughly two-thirds of voters. Every major network and news organization quickly called the race over — less than an hour after polls closed.
Newsom, appearing weary from weeks of intense campaigning, spoke to supporters in Sacramento and claimed victory, saying the resounding “no” vote was in support of democratic and progressive ideals and a rejection of cynical Divisions.
“I want to focus on what we said yes to as a state,” Newsom said.
“We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression. We said yes to women’s fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body, her fate and her future.”
“We said yes to diversity. We said yes to inclusion. … We said yes to all those things that we hold dear as Californians, and I would argue as Americans — economic justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice. … All of those things were on the ballot this evening and so I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians who exercised their fundamental right to vote and expressed themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism.”
He added: “Tonight, I am humbled, grateful, but resolved in the spirit of my political hero Robert Kennedy to make more gentle the life of this world.”
The recall ballot contained only two questions: should Newsom be recalled — removed — from office, and if so, which of the 46 candidates on the ballot or seven write-in candidates should replace him?
Newsom needed 50% or more voters to respond “no” to the first question to remain in office. With Newsom quickly and convincingly passing that mark, the second question was quickly deemed irrelevant.
Had things gone differently, Republican talk show host Larry Elder would have claimed the governor’s office. Elder had more than 40% of the early vote, with Democrat Kevin Paffrath a distant second and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer in third place.
Faulconer, speaking before any results were in, positioned the recall as “a referendum on Gavin Newsom’s failure,” saying, “That’s why so many Californians not only signed the recall petition, but that’s why Californians in all parts of the state, all party registrations, are ready for a change at the top.”
But he quickly conceded defeat Tuesday night.
“It’s clear that our work in California is not finished,” he told supporters. “This recall showed that if you keep the focus on Gavin Newsom, he can be beat … the focus of this election turned into national politics and personalities.”
Elder was not so quick to concede. Representatives from his campaign insisted the night was still young, expressing hope that Republicans would surge back when results of in-person voting were tallied.
With the victory, Newsom avoided the fate of former California Gov. Gray Davis, who was removed from office by recall in 2003. He was replaced by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.