At an election rally, Gavin Newsom speaks to a crowd in front of a giant sign made of lightbulbs spelling out "NO"

California’s Ridiculous Republican-Led Recall Attempt Is Finally Over as Newsom Wins in a Landslide

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The good news out of California today is that control of the country’s largest economy and the wellbeing of 40 million people has not been turned over to a fringe right-wing radio host.

Governor Gavin Newsom avoided being recalled with about 64% of the vote (amid an extremely low voter turnout) in his favor. This is very good news as his presumptive successor was Larry Elder, a Black Republican radio host who doesn’t believe in climate change, gun control, or the gender pay gap. He has argued that employers should be able to discriminate against female employees or have or plan to have children. He’s called the Black Lives Matter movement “bogus” and suggested racism can’t exist in a country that has had a Black president. And he’s staunchly against mask or vaccine mandates.

Recall efforts in California are common. Pretty much every governor has had fringe conservative groups circulate petitions to try to get them out of office and nearly all of them have failed to even make it onto a ballot. The anti-Newsom crusade was getting a similar lack of attention, let alone support, until the governor attended an ill-advised fancy party in the middle of his state’s lockdown. The optics were terrible (though definitely not worth risking the fate of the entire state over) and suddenly the already-existing petition to recall him gained a scary amount of traction.

Fortunately, the recall ultimately failed, and it only took hundreds of millions of dollars and months of embarrassing spectacle.

Meanwhile, Elder is pulling a page from the Trump book and, though he conceded, he also told supporters to “stay tuned.” He also began laying the groundwork for undermining the election’s validity before it even happened, setting up a website for people to report incidents of voter fraud and even claiming that fraud had somehow already been detected ahead of the election.

“We implore you … to join us in this fight as you are able, primarily by signing our petition demanding a special session of the California legislature to investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election of Governor Gavin Newsom,” reads the site–which, again, was made before the election even happened.

Bullet dodged, California.

(image: David McNew/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.