SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Governor Gavin Newsom will stay in office, as Californians have voted against recalling him.
That outcome allows him to serve the remainder of his first term, which expires at the end of 2022.
"It appears we are enjoying an overwhelming ‘no’ vote in the State of California," Newsom said in Sacramento as the election was called by most media outlets, including Associated Press.
Newsom emphasized that he is both "humble and grateful" for Californians who exercised their right to vote in the recall election. He was hopeful that his constituents rejected cynicism and negativity associated with today's political climate.
"We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic," Newsom said in Sacramento.
Surviving the recall gives Newsom a renewed political mandate to carry out a progressive agenda. Just weeks ago, it seemed possible that Newsom could be ousted due to a backlash over his handling of the pandemic. His visit to an expensive Napa restaurant with a group of people while not wearing a mask struck many voters as hypocritical, coming last fall at a time that Newsom urged the public to stay home for the good of public health.
Besides the pandemic, Newsom must confront the ongoing challenge of soaring housing costs, devastating wildfires, worsening drought, systemic dysfunction in the state’s unemployment office and rampant homelessness.
Newsom was the top well-known Democrat on the ballot. Other top contenders included Republican candidates Kevin Faulconer, Larry Elder, John Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley.
A recent poll before the recall showed that support had solidified behind Newsom with 60% saying they opposed the recall. That was Newsom's most favorable poll as others have shown a closer battle; some polls showed conservative talk radio host Larry Elder in the lead.
For some time now, Newsom stated that the recall process against him was unfair and had been weaponized by people with opposing political views, namely the supporters of former President Donald Trump.
As he addressed reporters on election night, he touched on this saying, "Trumpism is not dead in this country."
He said claims of voter fraud were "a crock" in his victory speech. He compared democracy to an antique vase that can easily smash if you drop it. He urged voters to be diligent.
The push for the recall began in June of 2020, but over time the effort was fueled by the state's COVID restrictions on businesses and houses of worship, school shutdowns and even opposition to California's high taxes.
Democrats have tried to nationalize the race, linking the recall effort to Republicans including Trump, who has not publicly commented on the recall. President Biden and Vice President Harris made separate campaign appearances recently with Newsom.
Republicans, meanwhile, have tried to keep the race focused on California issues and what they consider to be Newsom’s failures in tackling homelessness, crime and wildfire prevention.
California is one of the country’s most heavily Democratic states. Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1, and the party controls every statewide office and dominates the Legislature and congressional delegation.
The last time a recall election was held in California was 2003, when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Associated Press and KTTV contributed to this report.