California Gov. Gavin Newsom easily fended off a recall attempt after focusing his campaign message on the ongoing threats from “Trumpism,” The Associated Press reports.
The “No” votes vastly outpaced the “Yes” votes by about 30 percentage points with more than 70% of votes reported. The Associated Press and other outlets called the race early Wednesday night.
“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic.”
Newsom touted his Covid response, which prompted Republican critics to launch the recall effort to begin with over frustrations with business lockdowns. Newsom also sought to tie his leading challenger, talk show host Larry Elder, to former President Donald Trump.
Newsom warned on Wednesday that Trump and his allies are threatening democracy with their attacks on free elections and voting access.
“Democracy is not a football, you don’t throw it around. It’s more like — I don’t know — an antique vase,” he said. “You can drop it, smash it into a million different pieces — and that’s what we’re capable of doing if we don’t stand up to meet the moment and push back.”
Elder concedes defeat:
Elder, who pushed baseless voter fraud conspiracies ahead of the election results, conceded defeat.
“Let’s be gracious in defeat. We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” Elder said.
"We're forcing them now to pay attention to the things they should have paid attention to two years ago," he argued, pointing to homelessness and the state’s high cost of living.
Elder, who is black, also criticized his opponents for focusing on race and argued that systemic racism has already been defeated.
"To the extent that it is humanly possible, we have achieved the dream of Martin Luther King, where people are being evaluated by content of their character, and not color of their skin. Knock it off!" he said.
California to consider recall reforms:
The state spent close to $300 million in taxpayer money, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber said Tuesday, calling for the system to be reformed. It currently requires the signatures of just 12% of the number of voters in the gubernatorial election to initiate a recall election.
"This system is over 100 years old. We haven't revised it in 100 years," Weber said.
Some lawmakers have called to raise the signature threshold to 25% of the number of voters in the previous election and raise the threshold people need to meet to qualify to be a replacement candidate. Candidates currently need to just pay a $4,000 fee and collect 7,000 signatures to make the ballot.
"It is somewhat quirky in that sense that Gavin Newsom could actually lose and then we'd end up with a person who didn't have more than 20% of the of the vote," said Weber. "Which means the vast majority of California would be rejecting that person."