Early election returns showed more than 67% of voters favored keeping Gov. Gavin Newsom in office.
The Democrat, in the final year of his first four-year term, claimed victory in the recall election Tuesday night, saying he’s “humbled and grateful’’ by the support he received. He said the vote showed that voters “said yes to all those things that we hold dear as Californians.”
The early results are based on mail-in ballots, which tend to lean Democratic.
The recall ballot asked only two questions: should Newsom be recalled — removed — from office, and if so, which of the 46 candidates on the ballot should replace him?
As of Tuesday night, preliminary results with just 35.8% of precincts statewide partially reporting showed 67% of ballots cast voted no for the first question and 33% voted yes, according to unofficial election results posted on the California Secretary of State’s website.
Those results made the second ballot question irrelevant. Although it was a moot point, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, the Republican front-runner who supports former President Donald Trump, garnered 43.5% of the vote, followed by Democrat Kevin Paffrath, with 10.8% of the vote, and former San Diego Mayor Republican Kevin Faulconer, with 9.5%, according to the California Secretary of State’s website.
In Los Angeles County, 73.61% of ballots cast voted against the recall and 26.39% people voted in favor of it, according to early results from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office.
In Kern County, which leans Republican, 55.22% of ballots cast voted yes on the recall question and 44.78% voted no, according to early results posted online by the Kern County Elections Division.
Although election polls in August showed a tight race for Newsom, polls leading up to Election Day showed Newsom holding on to his job with 57.3% in favor of keeping him in office, according to fivethirtyeight.com.
Elder took a page from Trump’s playbook and claimed election fraud on Monday before any votes had been tallied. His campaign set up a website — stopcafraud.com — that links to an affidavit form where voters can report any alleged irregularities, interference, or intimidation while voting.
Elder, who has never held elected office, is an outspoken opponent of government mandates — such as those requiring mask-wearing or receiving COVID-19 vaccines — and vowed to eliminate them immediately if elected.
Newsom got a final push late Monday from President Joe Biden, who warned that the contest could shape the country’s direction on the pandemic, reproductive rights and the battle to slow climate change.
Biden said the issues that defined the 2020 presidential race have been resurrected in California, with potentially disastrous results if Newsom is removed. Speaking to hundreds of cheering supporters during a twilight rally in the coastal city of Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, Biden referred to Elder, as a “clone” of Trump.
“The eyes of the nation are on California,” he warned. The recall vote is “going to reverberate around the nation and … around the world.”
The recall campaign was fueled largely by anger over Newsom’s actions during the pandemic, which included imposing the nation’s first statewide shutdown order. Critics said he was heavy handed, shuttering businesses and keeping children out of classrooms for longer than necessary. Newsom said his actions saved lives.