California Gov. Gavin Newsom became Tuesday only the second governor in U.S. history to beat back a recall, surviving the campaign to oust him over his novel coronavirus pandemic shutdowns and the state’s myriad economic, environmental and social woes.
Early results in the special election showed that the recall question against the Democratic governor had gone down to defeat, according to projections by CNN, NBC News and the Associated Press.
With 58% of the vote counted, consisting of absentee and early ballots, 68% of the voters had voted “No” on the recall, effectively saying Mr. Newsom should stay in the governor’s mansion.
In brief remarks from Sacramento, Mr. Newsom said that he was “humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote and expressed themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division.”
“We said yes to science, 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,” said Mr. Newsom. “We said yes to diversity, we said yes to inclusion, we said yes to pluralism, we said yes to all those things that we hold dear as Californians.”
Mr. Newsom, who was elected in 2018 with 62% of the vote, outspent his competition by about 5 to 1, raising more than $70 million to defeat the 46 candidates who sought to supplant him if the recall question succeeded.
Leading the list of challengers was Republican Larry Elder, the longtime Los Angeles radio host who led the field of candidates after jumping into the race in July.
Supporters gathered more than 2 million signatures from Californians to place the recall question on the ballot, spurred by frustration over Mr. Newsom’s tough pandemic restrictions and allegations of hypocrisy after the governor broke his own rules by appearing at a private party last year at the upscale French Laundry restaurant.