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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — US's California Governor Gavin Newsom will remain in office after surviving the recall election held on Tuesday.
The California voters were asked only two questions on the ballot; should Newsom be recalled and, if so, who should replace him, with a list of 46 candidates to choose from.
According to exit polls, 66.9 percent voted no to recalling Newsom whereas 33.1 percent voted yes.
Newsom, who was elected in 2018, was the first governor to implement a stay-at-home order due the spread of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
In remarks he delivered in Sacramento, California following his victory, Governor Newsom said he is “humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians who exercised their fundamental right to vote and express themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division.”
Newsom is the second governor in the nation's history to survive a recall vote and the second governor in California to face a recall vote. In 2003, California Governor Gray Davis was removed from office and replaced by movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Newsom survived the Republican attempt to remove him from office as California’s governor, ensuring that the Democrat can serve out the rest of his term as the top official in the nation’s most populous state.
Speaking at a press conference late Tuesday, Newsom thanked his supporters and said “no is not the only thing that was expressed tonight.”
“We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression. We said yes to women’s fundamental, constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body and her fate and future,” he said.
The gubernatorial recall effort was the second in California’s history to qualify for the ballot, giving Republicans a chance to seize power in an otherwise deep-blue state.
Newsom, who was elected by an overwhelming margin in 2018 to a term that would end in 2023, spent months trying to fend off the Republican-led effort that gained traction last year over allegations that he mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 1.5 million Californians signed the recall petition due to frustrations over state-issued health orders and the appearance of a maskless Newsom at a dinner party during the height of surging COVID cases.
The recall effort became just one of the several crises that Newsom, steward of the biggest state economy in the United States, had to juggle in the past year, in addition to wildfires, drought, rising costs of living and, of course, the pandemic. Fresh data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that COVID transmission rates in California are dropping, however.
His campaign drove turnout among complacent Democratic voters, who outnumber Republicans in the state’s electorate by 2 to 1, as they gained a colossal lead in early mail-in ballot returns.
The governor had a huge money advantage over his opponents. He had a $70 million campaign war chest, and unleashed a flurry of anti-recall ads with prominent Democrats such as former President Barack Obama vouching for him to stay in office.
Newsom received a final push from President Joe Biden, who said at a rally Monday that the results of the election will be felt nationally, shaping the country’s direction on climate change, the pandemic and even reproductive rights.
Biden also slammed conservative talk show host Larry Elder, the Republican front-runner of the election, describing him as a “clone” of former President Donald Trump.
Elder drummed up far more support than any of the challengers vying to succeed Newsom, holding a substantial lead over the rest of the field in recent polling.
He vowed to reverse vaccination and mask mandates, and echoed Trump’s false claims about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 elections, laying the groundwork for misinformation about the recall election. — Agencies
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