Skip to content
Newsom vs. Elder: split recall ballot boxes in California

After weeks of campaigning, ads and social media posts, there appeared to be few ambivalent voters as Californians decided to topple Gov. Gavin Newsom in Tuesday’s recall election.

Some voters found the election ridiculous, saying Newsom had done a good job and hoped to preserve California’s progressive policies by supporting it.

But for others, the recall was a pivotal moment for a state they say has strayed and is not receiving the leadership it needs.

Larry Elder, a far-right radio host, has become the frontrunner among the GOP, pointing to the wide partisan divide in California.

Recent polls have shown the recall movement facing an uphill battle, as well as support for Newsom’s pandemic policies, which prompted him to oust him.

Here’s how it went on Tuesday in various communities.

Riverside

Javier Cisneros, owner of a locksmith business, said he voted for Newsom’s recall mainly due to roaming and coronavirus warrants he felt went too far.

After his business was forced to close for a month last year, he was shocked to learn that the Governor’s PlumpJack Group, which operates a dozen stores, wineries, restaurants and a hotel, continued to function.

Last July, the governor ordered the 19 counties hardest hit by the coronavirus to cut back on their internal and external business activities. Months later, Newsom was seen maskless inside the upscale French Laundry restaurant for a birthday dinner.

“He’s a hypocrite,” said Cisneros, who voted for the governor’s recall and chose Elder as his replacement, saying he would do a better job of tackling the issues that have devoured the state.

Santa Ana

Louie Boucher, a second year student at Santa Ana College majoring in chemistry, voted against the recall because he believes Newsom has done its best to “try to protect people in this state.”

Boucher said his grandmother contracted COVID-19 and nearly died.

“It’s because people aren’t doing all they can for the community,” he said. “Without the mask warrants, we’re just going to go back to square one.”

Pasadena

Wanda James, a retired teacher in the 1980s, voted to keep Newsom in power – likening the alternative to an unwanted intrusion of “Trumpism in disguise.”

Elder “is absolutely the wrong person to ever be governor of anything,” said James, wearing purple sunglasses adorned with rhinestones and a face mask bearing an image of Rosie the Riveter.

The local resident said she listened to Elder on the radio because she felt it was essential to know the “opposite point of view”.

Leaning on her blue and white cane, she added, “You must know what the crazy people are talking about.

She praised Newsom’s handling of the pandemic, grateful for him for remaining calm and for acting in accordance with science.

“I was really proud of the way he and [Los Angeles] Mayor [Eric] Garcetti managed for that whole period, ”she said. “And I had a feeling he wasn’t letting politics be part of his decisions – until this recall business got really serious.”

South Los Angeles

Nnedinma Ofoha, 28, and her brother Obinna, 24, arrived early to the polls, dressed in sweatshirts and tap dancing. They were both uninspired but felt compelled to vote.

“Honestly, I don’t know anything about politics. I’m quite anti-political, but I vote here because my family makes me vote, ”Obinna said.

Nnedinma forced him out of bed, he said, with an instruction: “Vote no on the recall.”

“The recall doesn’t make sense, but I don’t take any election lightly,” Nnedinma said.

Their civic duty accomplished, social worker Nnedinma was eager to start her working day at home. Obinna, a student, was planning to watch TV.

Sense of obligation, frustration with the process, and fear of “ridiculous” recall candidates were common themes at Crenshaw.

“It was just shenanigans,” said Abe Jacques, 65, before getting into his car.

“This is not the way to change,” agreed Maya Estephanos, a 36-year-old actress and choreographer who moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago from Atlanta.

Estephanos was not living in California during the last recall. She is shocked by the process and skeptical of it.

“I think it’s designed to go after people who are busy,” she said.

Norwalk

Whittier resident Yolanda Garcia, a Superior Court employee, is a registered Republican, but said her party had nothing to do with her yes vote.

“Vote, vote, vote,” Garcia said. “I am voting yes because I am the mother of a 12 year old girl and have seen how school closures have disrupted her learning and development.”

Garcia also said Newsom had mismanaged issues related to homelessness and housing affordability. Like many people voting for the recall, she blames the governor for the rise of homelessness and the high cost of living in California. But it wasn’t these issues that led Garcia to vote for Elder.

“I want someone who believes in the 1st Amendment, someone who will stand up for the constitution,” Garcia said. “I know Larry will.”

Conversely, Rosselin Alvarez, 19, a student at Mount Saint Mary’s University, said she was only able to live in California because of Newsom’s policies.

“He has helped immigrants like me,” said the native of Nueva Santa Rosa, Guatemala.

Alvarez said Golden State’s stimulus checks have proven invaluable, as well as health insurance assistance for immigrants during the pandemic. She thanked Newsom for “helping immigrants start and finish school”.

Alvarez said much of the criticism surrounding Newsom was unfairly harsh. Like many other Democrats, Alvarez left the second question blank.

“He’s doing a really good job,” she says.

Saint Clare

Connor O’Sullivan, 25, was happy the recall went to the ballot.

The Massachusetts native voted for Elder on Tuesday at the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall, citing his appreciation for the GOP candidate’s conservative values.

“He stands for freedom and basic American principles in which I also believe, which Newsom does not believe,” he said.

O’Sullivan, an accountant, said Newsom’s response to the coronavirus was another key reason for his recall vote.

“I think [Newsom] handled the pandemic terribly. I think taxes are crazy – I just don’t think he’s competent to run a state, ”he said, noting that he disapproved of the governor’s closure of churches during the pandemic.

Rosa Frye-Boone, 73, felt the same.

“This whole COVID-19 thing, I don’t think he handled it well,” she said of Newsom. “These masks, which we all know are useful, I’m not glad he got on first and we [Republicans] second. I have the impression that he is not doing the job that is expected of him. A little too liberal for me.

Beverly hills

Jason Greene said he felt good about voting to recall Newsom and install Elder. Statewide policies have been decided on what is politically expedient and not what is best for voters, he said.

“I don’t like the way the state is run,” he said. “Elder has more of a practical point of view.

Another voter, Ashley, said she voted yes on the recall because she opposed mask mandates at her 2-year-old son’s mostly outdoor school. Ashley didn’t want her last name published because she “didn’t want to be ashamed of my child’s liberal school.”

She voted for Elder because she disagreed with Newsom’s policies during the pandemic and because of the increase in homelessness.

“Things have to change,” she said.