Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, Competent repulsed a recall attempt of Republicans on Tuesday after turning the game’s game of a referendum on his own actions into a partisan battle over Trumpism and the coronavirus.
The California by-election was the first major U.S. political game of the presidency of Joe Biden and served as a stress test for both parties before next year’s midterm, which will determine whether Biden’s Democratic Party can retain control of Congress.
The rejection of the recall by Republican and leading Republican challenger Larry Elder is a sign that candidates in line with former President Donald Trump will fight for votes in major U.S. political battlefields, such as the former Republican stronghold of California, Orange County.
Four takeaways from Newsom’s victory:
COVID Precautions Can Help Democrats
Republicans intended the repeal to be a referendum on the Democrats’ rule in California, and the homelessness, crime, high housing costs and energy problems that came with it. But in a bit of political maneuvering – and using the scattered delta variant – Newsom made it into a referendum on Republicans’ opposition to coronavirus precautions.
The Republicans want to replace Newsom against mask and vaccine mandates, and the governor of California has gladly emphasized this. Newsom has aired an advertisement calling the recall “a matter of life and death” and accusing the top Republican candidate, talk radio host Larry Elder, of ‘lethal conspiracy theories’.
Ironically, the recall got steamy after Newsom was caught in November during a lobbyist’s birthday party in a charming restaurant in Napa Valley – unmasked and in a large party that violated his own social distance order. But his strategists have been arguing for weeks that his leadership during the pandemic is a plus for him – and that other Democrats should not be afraid to lead the case.
In his remarks after winning, Newsom retained the emphasis on the virus. “I want to focus on what we as a state have said yes to: we have said ‘yes’ to science, we have said ‘yes’ to vaccines, we have said ‘yes’ to ending this pandemic,” the governor told reporters.
IDP revives baseless claims about election fraud
Republicans’ unfounded allegations of election fraud are not going to go away any time soon.
Even while ballots were still being cast, Republicans claim the election was “picked up.” This was an unfounded allegation – and strange because the Republicans performed relatively well in November under the same electoral system in California and won four seats in Congress.
But that of former President Donald Trump false election fraud rhetoric quickly engraved in Republican politics. The former president enthusiastically added his own voice to the demands. And a few days before the polls closed, the Elder campaign began bizarrely spreading a link to a petition calling for an investigation into his loss, with alleged widespread fraud – some Republicans feared a message that its voters should not even bother to turn up Tuesday.
The recall has always been a long lead in a state where registered Democrats have registered Republicans by almost two-to-one and where the IDP has not won a statewide election since 2006. The loss indicated by opinion polls for months shows that the party will not get away from the suspicions. This led to the January 6 attack on the US capital following Trump’s defeat.
It is particularly noteworthy that Elder on Tuesday night tried to get away from the inflammatory allegations of the election. In his concession speech, he told supporters: “Let us be merciful in a defeat.”
However, some Californians are worried about what might happen in their state.
“This is the second consecutive election where aggressive emotional charges of voter fraud are taking place,” said Mindy Romero, director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at the University of Southern California. “I can see nothing positive in it.”
No light at end of tunnel for California GOP
The repeal offers the Republicans of California their only acceptable shot at a state-wide office in one of the most democratic states in the United States. The recall is a way to evade a head-to-head contest that will send voters to their usual biased corners.
This is what happened in 2003 when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won a recall against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger’s moderate politics would never have won a GOP by – election, but was appealing to voters who were fed up with the incumbent. Some Republicans had hoped it would happen again this year, with former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a moderate, on the ballot.
But there were two problems for the IDP. In the first place, California is now very different from 2003 – it is more liberal and more diverse. There are now more than three million more registered Democrats in the state than at the time of the last recall, and nearly 400,000 fewer Republicans.
Second, Faulconer never got stuck. Elsewhere, his bombastic style, honed during his decades on talk radio and reflecting Trump, has put him at the top of the Republican pack. Newsom, feeling a favorable contrast, begins to hit elder on the waves.
Some Republicans have hoped that the populist approach of elder, an African-American, could appeal to California’s diverse voters. But it does not seem to have worked.
“Larry Elder was exactly what Gavin Newsom needed,” said Rob Stutzman, a California veteran.
Uncertain model for congress media
Democrats have shown that they can eliminate their voters, even if their party has held the White House – a traditionally difficult achievement, and therefore the party in power usually loses seats in Congress during midterm elections. Republicans are trying to win back the House and Senate. The turnout was expected to be high – some experts predicted it would be in the vicinity of the more than 12 million who voted in California in 2018.
Ultimately, the repeal was a referendum on Newsom and how the Californians wanted their state to be governed, especially with regard to the coronavirus – an issue over which the governor has a lot of influence. The midterm will be a referendum on Biden. The power that the IDP can gain – control of Congress – is not the executive branch from which coronavirus regulations came.
It is not clear that Democrats can do the same defense of Congress as their governor in the populous state of the country.