Newsom Negates Possibility of Recall


Courtesy of Gage Skidmore. Newsom wins the election by a large margin.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, efforts to replace Calfornia Governor Gavin Newsom were initiated in February of 2020 by Orrin Heatley, a retired Sheriff Sergeant, who disagreed with Newsom’s views on immigration and the death penalty. However, on September 14, Newsom was able to stay in his seat as 61.9% of California voted in his favor while 38.1% voted for a recall. According to ABC7News, recall efforts began when Heatley was able to gather more supporters during the stay-at-home order as many disagreed with his handling of the pandemic. The triggering point for the recall efforts was when Newsom held a fundraising event without a mask mandate while he was advocating for people to wear their masks to prevent the spread of the virus. This soon turned into a statewide controversy as it was uncertain whether Newson would remain in his position. 

After 1.7 million signatures were gathered in March, the petition to recall Governor Newsom was officially passed, marking September 14th as election day. According to NPR KQED, the general complaints against Newsom revolved around his mishandling of the pandemic, slowing the return to in-person school, and turning a blind eye to the increasing rate of “homicide, homelessness, and other quality-of-life issues.” On the other hand, his supporters believed that Newsom was able to successfully lay down protocols that slowed down the spread of COVID-19, incorporated policies that catered to the needs of residents, and gained many residents access to vaccinations, which ultimately made California one of the most vaccinated states in the nation. Many politicians, including former President Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders, also believed that the recall was an effort for the right-wing party to seize power. As a result, Newsom was able to campaign his way to victory despite there being other potential candidates waiting to take his seat.  

There were forty-six candidates that were aiming to replace Newsom, some of whom were “celebrity transgender athlete and businesswomen Caitlyn Jenner … conservative talk show host Larry Elder.” Part of the Republican Party, Caitlyn Jenner is famously known for being a former Olympian and being a part of the popular reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, according to The Washington Post.  She openly supported Former President Donald Trump because she admired how he “shook up the system” and was a “disrupter” while disliking how Biden came into office taking a “180-degree turn in our country.” Many of her beliefs aligned with Trump, including building a wall which 28% of California supported and incorporating other unpopular policies. It was initially thought that Jenner had a possibility of replacing Newsom because Arnold Schwargenner, a well-known movie star, replaced Gray Davis during the California recall election in 2003. However, critics believe that Jenner’s position is different from that of Schwargenner as Jenner supported an unpopular politician (Trump) while Schwargneer held a centrist view, making Jenner a suboptimal candidate for this race. 

Another potential conservative Republican candidate was talk radio host Larry Elder, who was in the top two next to Governor Newsom. According to AP News, Elder “seeks to become the state’s first Black governor.” He blasted Newsom’s mishandling of the pandemic and his lack of attention towards small businesses, which slowly deteriorated as time went on. However, many residents of California were alarmed by his stances on as his anti-abortion, ban on sex education as he claims it to be “pornographic,” and opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement as “he disputed the idea that Black men are targeted by the police,” according to The Atlantic. Not only were his policies controversial, but President Joe Biden stated that he was “a clone” of President Donald Trump during a rally. This support was able to give Newsom’s campaign much more momentum. Since his beliefs strayed away from that of the majority of California, Elder was not considered to be a potential threat as he had a small chance to replace Governor Newsom. As expected, Newsom retained his seat as a whopping 61.9% voted to not recall him.  

Not only did the residents of California have Newsom’s back, but Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, Politician Bernie Sanders, and other popular faces supported Newsom and his campaign which allowed Newsom to have more precedence. While Newsom was able to hold onto his position during this surprise election, he will have to win the elections again in 2022 to remain governor.