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COVID hangs over California voters in Newsom’s recall election

To hear many at the polls on Tuesday, the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom was just another political end led by Trump supporters to bypass the normal electoral process when they lacked the support of the majority.

“I thought this was all going to end after Trump was defeated,” said Terry Lee, a 78-year-old San Bernardino resident who voted against the recall on Tuesday. “He pleaded electoral fraud, and [the votes] have been told and told and it hasn’t changed anything. But that’s not enough, is it?

To hear the others, Newsom has dramatically failed to overreact to the pandemic and drove California into landfills.

“I want a change,” said Eliza Boucher, 50, of Santa Ana, after voting for the Larry Elder talk show. “I’m sick of all the closures and the wearing of masks. I want the freedom we had before.

From Los Angeles to Bakersfield, Fresno to the North Coast, Californians voted on Tuesday – in addition to the millions of people who voted days and weeks ago, prompted by radically different realities of the state and the nation, each side describing itself as an existential threat to its core values. Early results Tuesday night showed Newsom on track to beat the costly effort to pull it off.

Reminder supporters have described the governor as an arrogant and out of touch leader who has let homelessness and crime run out of control while chasing middle class people with high taxes that never seem to help. They say he has forced small businesses to close while others have remained open, prevented millions of children from going to school and lobbied for warrants for vaccines and masks that have deprived people their fundamental freedoms.

Opponents of the recall largely say Newsom has done its best during the coronavirus outbreaks and that, without its leadership, the state would experience a deadly third wave that would further cripple the economy and slow student achievement. Even those who are lukewarm about the governor don’t see why he shouldn’t finish his term and fight for re-election next year.

Such a boost of views was going through big cities and rural towns, even single families. In Santa Ana, Boucher’s 19-year-old son Louie said Newsom had done his best to “try to protect the people in this state” and that his efforts were what pushed California into the pre-pandemic world. that her mother had desperately wanted to go back. “Without the mask warrants, we are back to square one. “

Among those opposed to the recall, some were ambivalent about Newsom and voted more out of fear of a far-right takeover by talk show host Larry Elder.

“The last thing I want to do is undo everything we’ve done,” said Edgar Montes, a 38-year-old aerospace worker in Sylmar. “We are not the best state, but we are not the worst. “

He said he was lining up at Sylmar Charter High School to vote no on the recall, mainly to ensure Elder would not be able to roll back state measures to fight the coronavirus. “We could easily be in a situation like Florida or Texas,” he said. “Thank goodness we are not.

Montes said Newsom would have a stronger challenger in the 2022 election and that none of the candidates in that poll would have a chance to beat him in this contest.

Jay Irene, a 71-year-old retired freelance librarian, was outraged at how the state has made it possible for the homeless to suffer. In a parking lot in Montebello, she recently helped an 85-year-old homeless man clean the car he was living in as the election approached.

“I ran into him one evening. It had been parked in the same spot night after night, she said.

“Anyone could do better on homelessness” than our current elected officials, she said. “It breaks my heart.”

But she voted for Newsom in the last election and was still against the recall, which she called “an astronomical waste of money.”

“Couldn’t they have just waited? What is the rush? It was a rhetorical question that she had answered herself. “The state has become so polarized that there is no way the Democratic Party could have prevented the recall,” she said. “The opposition was fierce,” she said. “I just can’t see it stop. You get enough signatures and you can call the dogcatcher back, for goodness sake.

In Sacramento, Rick Avery was one of the ambivalents. As he rode his electric blue mobility scooter down the sidewalks, the 69-year-old asked, “Today is the recall?” While twisting a small peace sign ring on his pinky finger, he added, “I don’t really watch the news. Trump dissuaded me from this.

Osvaldo Alvarado, 43, a self-proclaimed social worker and independent from east Los Angeles, was reluctant to vote for Newsom’s recall because a new governor would only have one year in office and would be chosen by a minority of voters. But he didn’t like Democrats to have near-total control over state governance. The taxes were too high; homelessness was rampant. In the end, he voted to recall Newsom on Tuesday and replace him with Elder.

“The concept of having a candidate with 18 or 19% of the vote as governor… basically I have a problem with that,” Alvarado said. “But eventually I thought okay let’s give him a chance to see what he does. If people don’t like it, hey, a year from now vote Democrat or whatever you want at that point.

In Fresno, John Kindler pulled into his compound in his window repair company’s white pickup truck, oblivious to who replaced Newsom, just that someone did. He thought the recall election was a waste of money and blamed the governor for it.

“If he hadn’t gone to the French laundry, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Newsom’s unmasked visit with top lobbyists to the extravagant Napa Valley restaurant flouted its own safety guidelines and infuriated many Californians across political advice.

“Here he was depositing $ 15,000 for a 50-year-old man’s birthday party and during that time I couldn’t go to my friend’s funeral,” Kindler said.

He thinks California is in “terrible shape”.

“The state hasn’t spent any money on water storage for I don’t know how long. He spends billions of dollars on a train and they’ve laid 20 miles of track in 11 years. My rights to the 2nd Amendment are still under attack. There is crime and the homeless and the roads are terrible. I have a Corvette and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost a wing.

Other voters were very passionate about serving as Elder governor, such as Paramount resident Eduardo Borrego, 55, who called himself a listener and longtime Elder fan. “Newsom had a chance and failed. “

“Homeless. Crime. I just don’t feel safe anymore,” said Elsy Ruiz, 46, of Bakersfield. “The gas is so high right now. It has become a choice between a gallon of milk or gasoline.

Ruiz has lived in Bakersfield since 1992 and she said she saw on television how things got worse in the state. She wouldn’t even consider visiting Los Angeles – a third world country is better off, she said.

The tipping point was how Newsom handled the pandemic. “It was the icing on the cake,” she said.

Things got so bad that she visited Texas and Arizona around June and July to see where she could move with her family. Ruiz believed Elder could help point the Golden State in a better direction. “Elder has a different point of view,” she said. “Let’s try something new.”

From top to bottom of the state, there was little ambivalence for Elder, just love or hate.

In Pasadena, Wanda James, a retired teacher in the 1980s, said he was “absolutely the wrong person to ever be governor of anything.” She said she listened to it on the radio because she felt that “you must know what the crazy people are talking about”.

Lee, in San Bernardino, felt the recall effort was another way for National Republicans to strike a blow at blue California, during a time of drought and fires.

“California has taken a lot of hits,” he said.

But he felt Newsom “was doing fine, as best he could.” Even in these divided times, he had hope.

“California has always survived.

Times editors Cindy Carcamo, Andrew J. Campa, Maria L. La Ganga, Diana Marcum, Benjamin Oreskes, Lila Seidman, Donovan X. Ramsey and Anita Chabria contributed to this report.