CCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom defeated a historic Republican-led impeachment effort, securing a victory that is likely to save his political career and reinforce the continuation of Democratic policies.
Newsom on Tuesday easily fought the attempt to remove him from office less than three years after his first term. The incomplete statements showed him heading for a landslide victory with roughly 65% of the vote.
The Democratic governor, who is widely popular in the state, faced more than 40 opposition candidates eager to take command of the golden state. His main rival, Larry Elder, a right-wing radio host who opposes minimum wage and gun control, tried to cast doubt on the outcome even before the polls closed on Tuesday.
Newsom did not hold a surveillance party or an election night celebration. Instead, he took a grim tone when speaking to reporters Tuesday night, saying: “Tonight I am honored, grateful, but resolute.
“It’s not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to end this pandemic.
“Democracy is not football. You don’t throw it. It’s more like, I don’t know, an old vase, ”he added. “You can drop it, break it into a million different pieces, and that’s what we’re capable of if we don’t stand up to face the moment and step back.”
‘A choice between life and death’
Led by Republicans who oppose Newsom’s progressive policies, the pullout effort gained steam during the height of the pandemic amid frustrations over prolonged school closings, business restrictions and huge delays at state unemployment agencies.
Elder promised a sharp turnaround if he was elected to lead America’s most populous state. He vowed to remove public health policies, including coronavirus restrictions such as mask and vaccine mandates.
“I don’t drink coffee, I drink tea, and when I become governor, assuming there are still mandates for vaccines and mandates for face masks, they will be repealed before I have my first cup of tea,” Elder told supporters at a rally of August in the central valley of California, where the rise of the Delta variant has begun to overwhelm the intensive care departments of hospitals.
Elder had also spoken out against the minimum wage, criticized the landmark Roe v Wade decision on abortion rights, and vowed to select conservative judges and replace 88-year-old Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein with a Republican if he was elected. it gave him the opportunity. chance.
With Elder in the running, Newsom framed the election as a contest between two radically different visions for the future of California and the referendum on the future of Trumpism in American politics. Newsom called Elder “more extreme than Donald Trump” and characterized the choice between him and the Republican challengers as a “choice between life and death.”
California voters made it clear Tuesday that they did not want a dramatic turnaround. “It is somewhat remarkable that Newsom was able to take the issue of Covid, which could have been a fatal weakness for him and was able to turn it into a considerable strength,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor who has advised Republican candidates.
“Larry Elder delivered [Democrats] so many gifts on a tray. He is literally the antithesis of the majority of California voters, ”said Dana Williamson, who was a top adviser to former California Governor Jerry Brown.
Newsom’s victory secures his ability to run for re-election in 2022, which could alienate major rivals and preserve his place as a national political figure.
“Now he wins this, he wins again in 2022 and now we are in 2024 and beyond and he becomes a viable presidential candidate,” said Jack Citrin, professor of political science at UC Berkeley. “Every crisis is also an opportunity.”
Having survived the impeachment, Newsom will serve one more year before being reelected. “If he had survived by a small margin, it is very likely that another Democrat would have fought him from the left next year,” Schnur said. “But given a landslide like this, it’s very difficult to see that happen.”
With just over a year into his tenure, Citrin hopes Newsom will avoid “self-inflicted injuries,” such as his unfortunate visit to the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant, during the state’s surge of Covid last fall, effort to connect with Latino voters. “There has been a certain feeling in this campaign that he has not had a large following among Latino voters as he would like given the growing political and electoral power of Latinos.”
Newsom’s victory comes as California faces enormous political challenges, including homelessness, a housing shortage that is driving up already unaffordable home prices, and the dual environmental crisis of droughts and wildfires.
California is in the midst of another devastating fire season and, in recent years, flames have swept through entire towns, destroyed thousands of homes and killed more than 180 people. Experts have warned that the state’s wildfires are outpacing government interventions and that decisive leadership is needed to resolve the crisis by taking action on the climate crisis and reintroducing fire into the landscape.
As the state battles worsening fires, it also faces a devastating drought that has left reservoirs dangerously low, puts pressure on the agricultural industry and threatens the power source of hydroelectric plants. Although the state has spent billions preparing, experts say more ambitious solutions are still needed to navigate the next few years.
Meanwhile, the costly election, which could cost the state up to $ 300 million, is sure to raise more questions about reform of California’s impeachment system, which has been the subject of debate. intense criticism In recent months. Citrin does not believe the recall will disappear anytime soon, but expects there will be efforts to modify the process by requiring more signatures.
Maanvi Singh and the Associated Press contributed.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism