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5 takeaways from the California recall election

California Governor Gavin Newsom (R) crushed a Republican-led recall effort on Tuesday night. The results came surprisingly quickly, with most cable networks and the Associated Press predicting the recall to fall well below the 51% of the vote needed to kick the Democratic governor from office a year earlier.

Despite early allegations of electoral fraud from his campaign and other prominent right-wing voices, Tory radio host Larry Elder, the GOP frontrunner who has led the huge field of candidates seeking to replace Newsom, conceded in front of a crowd of supporters in Los Angeles.

“Let’s be gracious in defeat,” he said, adding, “We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war. “

Here are five takeaways from the California gubernatorial recall election:

Democrats’ approach to coronavirus justified

Newsom has put the coronavirus pandemic at the forefront of the race, repeatedly warning California voters during the election campaign that a Republican governor would reverse many of his policies when it comes to tackling the virus, such as face mask requirements and school vaccine mandates. A far-right candidate like Elder, Newsom warned, would seek to turn the state into Republican strongholds like Texas or Florida, where COVID-19 cases are on the rise and hospitals are overcrowded with patients struggling to survive. find intensive care beds.

“We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to the end of this pandemic,” Newsom said in his victory speech Tuesday night. “We said yes to all of these things that are dear to us as Californians and, I would say, as Americans.”

Newsom is not alone in taking a more aggressive look at the fight against COVID-19. President Joe Biden, who hosted a campaign event for Newsom the day before the election, is betting in the same way that demanding that people get vaccinated or tested regularly will not only end the pandemic faster, but will also be popular with voters across the country. According to recent polls, a majority of Americans – including suburban voters – support vaccination mandates for federal workers as well as private companies, which Biden announced last week.

“Trumpism is not dead”

“We may have defeated Trump, but Trumpism is not dead in this country,” Newsom warned in his victory speech Tuesday, referring to former President Donald Trump, who falsely claimed the election had been “rigged” weeks before they even ended.

Democrats presented Elder, a far-right candidate with a litany of extreme views, like Trump’s second coming. The strategy worked effectively in a blue stronghold where registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republican voters by a 3-1 margin.

Although voters flatly rejected the recall, Elder outclassed the second ballot question, which asked voters who should replace Newsom. He garnered nearly 50% of the vote, and more ballots have yet to be counted. More of the establishment’s GOP candidates were far behind Elder. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, for example, was the second Republican in the race behind Elder with less than 10% of the vote.

The results continue a trend seen nationwide: Trump candidates who mimic his rhetoric are gaining more traction in the Republican Party than more traditional GOP voices. In Senate races across the country, for example, Trump’s henchmen are gaining support, including author JD Vance in Ohio, former footballer Herschel Walker in Georgia, and Representative Mo Brooks in Alabama.

Newsom dodges friendly fire

One of the main reasons Newsom may still have a job is the fact that no other credible and leading Democratic candidate has entered the race. Despite the many criticisms from Democrats and some in the media, Newsom’s campaign focused on an early strategy: categorically oppose the recall and leave question 2 blank. Critics of the strategy feared that urging voters who opposed the recall not to pick a preferred candidate to replace Newsom could lead to the election of a far-right candidate, like Elder. But it paid off handsomely for Newsom.

Democrat Kevin Paffrath, real estate broker and YouTube personality, came in second behind Elder on Tuesday with nearly 10% of the vote. If someone better known had stepped in, Newsom might have run into more trouble.

In 2003, when then-Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante decided to run for the then government’s recall election. Gray Davis (R), Davis struggled to label the recall effort as a partisan attempt to oust him. Newsom, however, successfully described this year’s recall effort as a GOP getaway that began even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recall reform could gain public support

The recall election lasted for months, was triggered by networks minutes after the polls closed, and cost California taxpayers more than $ 270 million. This accounting is fueling calls for reform of the California recall system, which is enshrined in the state’s constitution.

Even before the end of the elections, critics were already pointing out that the system is fundamentally undemocratic and must change. If Newsom hadn’t garnered 51% of the vote on the recall issue, for example, he would have been ousted. Whoever came first on the field of candidates running to replace him would have become governor even if he had obtained a plurality of votes.

All Republicans needed to trigger the recall were the signatures of 12% of voters in California. They did so, thanks to an order from a judge that extended the deadline for submitting the required number of signatures – just 1.5 million out of a total of 40 million.

New poll data indicates that reform supporters are building a solid foundation for changes, if not outright abolition, of the recall system.

‘The Big Lie’ is here to stay

The Republicans may have lost on Tuesday, but their dangerous strategy of contesting the election with bogus fraud charges shows no signs of slowing down.

Trump and Elder fanned the flames ahead of the release of the results on Tuesday, raising fear about mail-in ballots and “rigged” elections, a continuation of what Trump calls “the big lie.” Elder’s campaign has also created a website for its base to report suspected voting scams.

Speaking to supporters Tuesday night, Newsom predicted that GOP’s tactics in California would be emulated in other states, warning that it could have dire consequences for the country.

“Democracy is not football. You can’t throw it away. It’s more like an antique vase. You can drop it and smash it into a million little pieces, ”he said.

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