The Republican attempt to topple a top Democratic Governor came up far short, providing Democarts with a much-needed win.
California Governor Gavin Newsom soundly defeated a recall attempt effort Tuesday night. With 66% of precincts reporting, ‘No’ has 5,840,283 votes (64%) while ‘Yes’ sits at just 3,297,145 (36%). That margin will likely narrow a bit as Election Day ballots, which tend to trend more Republican, come in.
Decision Desk HQ called the race just 21 minutes after the polls closed.
Recall petitions are a common, pesky and usually unsuccessful endeavor in the Golden State. Yet in this case a court-order extension of the deadline, paired with Newsom’s tone-deaf trip to a restaurant during lockdown, gave the effort enough juice to make the ballot.
Memories of the 2003 recall that saw the incumbent Governor Gary David dumped and replaced by action star Arnold Schwarzenegger made Democrats fearful. When a few polls in August suggested a toss-up race that anxiety turned to panic.
Nevertheless, the bar for Republicans is significantly higher than it was in 2003. Partisan polarization today has hardened to the point that, despite any qualms Democrats might quietly have with Newsom, very few of them are willing to throw him overboard. On top of that, California has grown considerably bluer over the course of the 21st century. Thus the decision by Newsom’s team to label it as the “Republican Recall”.
Any hope for a GOP upset rested on finding a talented candidate who could appeal across party lines. Initial prospects like Olympian and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer were instead eclipsed by firebrand radio host Larry Elder. As a result, the Newsom team was supplied with a plethora of controversial Elder quotes and positions to exploit over the past month.
Win for Biden, Loss for Recalls
Newsom’s victory also represents a welcome win for the Biden Administration, which is coming off a nightmare August. Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned with the Governor in her native Bay area last week, while President Biden toured the state with Newsom on Monday. Republicans, who were hoping to land a body blow similar to their 2010 Massachusetts Senate upset, may have unintentionally fired up the progressive base.
“Hopefully there’s a silver lining here, which we can apply to the big problem we have nationally,” Newsom strategist Sean Clegg told reporters yesterday. “The base may start out asleep, but you can wake up the base.”
Finally, the recall process itself likely took a hit. We’ve now seen two consecutive failed efforts after Wisconsin Democrats unsuccessfully tried to recall then-Governor Scott Walker in 2012. Political activists and election buffs may not believe this, but most citizens don’t actually want even more campaigns than they already have.
Round-Up of Other Races
While results in the Boston Mayoral race are slowly trickling in, with 88% of precincts reporting, City Councilor Michelle Wu and City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George both advanced to the November run-off. Wu currently stands at 31,295 votes, or 31.7%, while George sits at 22,771, or 23.1%.
Over in Ohio, there were two major mayoral contests in Cleveland and Toledo. An open seven-candidate contest in Cleveland will head to a run-off featuring top finishers Justin Bibb (27.1%) and Kevin Kelley (19.4%). Bibb runs a local non-profit, while Kelley is City Council President. Former Congressman and Mayor Dennis Kucinich came up just short, with a 16.5% third-place showing.
Meanwhile, Toledo’s incumbent Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz is set to advance to a run-off with former Mayor Carly Finkbeiner. Kapszukiewicz led the first round with 54% while Finkeiner trailed with 27%.
In Iowa, Republicans held onto a seat in the State House. GOP nominee Mike Bousselot defeated Democratic nominee Andrea Phillips 51.6% to 48.4% in the 37th district, which sits just north of Des Moines. The GOP also easily held a Tennessee State House seat, with Greg Vital winning over 80% of the vote in the 29th district outside Chattanooga.