Newsom Recall Chaos

Nika Anderson, Reporter

When President Joe Biden said, “the eyes of the nation are on California,” his words could not be any more true. California governor Gavin Newsom (D) won the recall election on Sept. 14. Newsom has been governor since 2019; this election came amid a recall petition that was filed in Feb. 2020. Historically, there have been many attempts to remove a governor but Gray Davis (D) had been successfully recalled in 2003. Of the forty six candidates that balloted for governor, there were celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner, Randy Quaid, and some more TV personalities in the race. There is no doubt that this election had a high amount of publicity partially attributed to the circus-like aspect some of the candidates brought with them. The cost of this chaotic election totaled $215 million. It is also worthy to note that Republicans are not the second largest party in California; No Party Preference takes its place.

Petitioners listed reasons for the gubernatorial recall such as adverse foreign policy, immigration laws that favor refugees, high homelessness rates, high taxes, rationing water use, and placing a moratorium on the death penalty among many others. Lately, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions had also angered Newsom’s opposition, as they are vehemently against mask mandates and vaccine requirements. The governor was also under fire for attending a French Laundry dinner party in Nov. 2020, during the raging coronavirus crisis. His wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, had also received backlash after actress Rose McGowan claimed that she tried to silence her about rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Even as Siebel Newsom dismissed these claims, McGowan had been vocal about the Democratic Party and encouraged the Golden state to vote against her husband.

Among the candidates on the ballot, Larry Elder, a Republican talk show host, received the most votes, after Newsom. This contender had been subject to the most controversy, as he is a black conservative. Elder’s views are also very unlikely, ranging from ending COVID-19 restrictions to legalizing recreational drugs. Recently, a dramatic incident had unfolded in Los Angeles involving Elder’s campaign to address the homelessness crisis. On Sept. 8, he walked past a homeless encampment near Venice, where people were hurling profanities and assaulting Elder’s team. They wanted Elder to leave and told him to “get the hell out of here!” A white woman riding a bike in a gorilla mask threw an egg past Elder’s head. Elder commented that: “had I had a ‘D’ at the end of my name, this would have been a hate crime.” The woman has yet to be identified and LAPD is conducting an investigation. This attack comes after another one on the same day, where an assailant with a pellet gun shot Elder’s aid in the buttocks at the senior center in Hollywood. Recently, Elder had been accused of toting a loaded gun at his ex-fiance, Alexandra Datig while high on marijuana. Datig, a former prostitute who was Elder’s radio producer for his talk show, had filed police reports in response to what she claims to be domestic abuse. Despite this controversy, Elder remained confident about winning this election, and if Newsom was recalled, Elder would have needed a plurality of the vote.

A woman in a gorilla mask throws an egg towards candidate Larry Elder.

As voters secured Newsom’s position, this suggests that many do not want GOP policies; this is not surprising in deep blue California. Many of Newsom’s supporters voted against the recall and did not choose a replacement candidate. In the end, Newsom gained nearly eight million votes, while Elder received around five million votes. Biden arrived to celebrate Newsom’s victory on Sept. 15. The White House released a few statements congratulating him that day on their website: “the fact that voters in both traditionally Democratic and traditionally Republican parts of the state rejected the recall shows that Americans are unifying behind taking these steps to get the pandemic behind us.” His victory comes on the same day that Democrats introduced an election reform bill targeting voter-suppression laws. For now, Newsom will have to face many challenges such as the pandemic, homelessness, unaffordable housing, wildfires, and droughts. Analysts suppose that Newsom’s victory can make him a possible candidate for presidency.