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Live CA Recall Election Results: Newsom Handily Defeats Recall

CALIFORNIA — After two months of constant campaigning, California Gov. Gavin Newsom handily repelled a recall effort Tuesday night, making him only the second governor in the country to beat back a recall.

“Thank you for rejecting this recall,” Newsom said, declaring victory at the John L. Burton California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento just moments after the race was called by The Associated Press.

High voter turnout worked in Newsom’s favor. With votes still being tallied, he appeared to outperform his own record in the 2018 election across several key counties. He exceeded President Joe Biden’s margin of victory in California in 2020 in several counties. And Populous counties historically key to Republican victories — including Orange, Riverside and San Diego — came out against the recall Tuesday.

Democrats were more likely to vote early, and Republicans had counted on a strong showing from in-person voting on Tuesday. It didn’t happen.

Larry Elder, the conservative talk radio host who won the most votes among 46 candidates seeking to replace Newsom, acknowledged his defeat to a crowd of supporters at an Orange County ballroom Tuesday night.

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“Let’s be gracious in defeat,” he said. “We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.”

The Associated Press called the election in Newsom’s favor within an hour of the polls closing. With 64 percent of votes tallied, 65.3 percent of voters rejected the recall, and 34.7 percent voted to oust the governor.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said Tuesday night. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic.”

Republicans had hoped for proof that frustrations over months of pandemic precautions would drive voters away from Democrats. They also searched for evidence that voters were tired of liberal leadership. Democrats have controlled every level of government in California for more than a decade, a period marked by a housing crisis and the increasingly damaging effects of climate change.

Republicans won back four U.S. House seats last year, the success that leaders hoped had indicated revived signs of life.

Earlier on Tuesday, Elder told Fox News that he pinned his hopes on in-person voters.

“The lines are long. That’s good news for our side,” he said. “I’ve heard from people saying, ‘I’ve voted all my life. I have never seen lines like this.'”

Earlier in the week, Elder claimed that the election could be riddled with fraud before the votes were tallied.

In Newsom’s victory speech, the governor called for unity in the Golden State.

“We have so much more in common in a state and a nation than we give ourselves credit for,” he said.

“I think about, just in the last few days, a former president put out that this election was rigged,” Newsom said, adding: “Democracy is not a football. You don’t throw it around. It’s more like an antique vase. You can drop it and smash it in a million different pieces. We may have defeated [President Donald] Trump, but Trumpism is not dead in this country.”

Newsom’s ouster would have sent shockwaves across the nation, putting the most liberal state in the nation under conservative leadership.

President Joe Biden joined Newsom in California on the eve of election day to support the first-term governor as he faced the final moments of the recall effort.

“This is not hyperbole: The eyes of the nation are on California,” Biden said Monday. “Because the decision you’re about to make isn’t just going to have a huge impact on California; it’s going to reverberate around the nation. And quite frankly, it’s not a joke, around the world. “

But polling going into the final days of the election had Newsom favored to beat the recall. Not since the 2006 election of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a GOP candidate won a statewide election in California.

Less than an hour before the governor declared his triumph, reality television star Caitlyn Jenner — arguably his most famous opponent — told Newsmax that the lection was “up in the air.”

“No. 1 we’ve gotta get Gavin Newsom out of there — it’s going to be difficult to do that but I’m hoping for the best,” Jenner said. “If he doesn’t get recalled I pity the people of California.”

As the polls closed, nearly 10 million voters — or 44 percent of registered voters — had already mailed in their ballots. Twice as many Democrats voted by mail as Republicans, according to Political Data Inc. The major question going into election night was whether Republicans could play catch up with in-person voting.

Real-time Results
The below widget shows results as they roll in. Click the toggle to see data for a specific county, and be sure to keep refreshing your page for the latest. (Click here if you are having trouble viewing the table.)

The end of the recall election was unlikely to be the end of the story, however. Elder — backed by Trump and Republican Party leaders — began alleging voter fraud as soon as Newsom surged in the polls this month.

Though there is no evidence of voter fraud, they have threatened lawsuits and independent investigations into what they alleged are voting irregularities.

The strategy had California Republicans trying to contain a fire of their own making as voting drew to a close. They had to persuade their voters to turn out Tuesday even as party leaders promoted unsubstantiated claims that the race was rigged or compromised by misconduct.

Elder has said he believed “there might very well be shenanigans, as there were in the 2020 election.” His campaign website has a link to a “Stop CA Fraud” website, where people can report suspicious voting activity or sign a petition demanding a special legislative session to investigate an election that isn’t even over. The language was lifted from a petition circulated to help Trump’s effort to overturn the results of last year’s presidential election.

On Monday, Trump, issued a statement saying, “Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn’t rigged?”

Recall candidate and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer pushed back against the false claims of voter fraud Tuesday night, saying he had no doubts about the integrity of the the election.

“Claiming voter fraud without evidence suppresses the vote and harms our democracy,” Faulconer told the Los Angeles Times.

GOP Messaging Could Backfire
It’s a message that fired up the conservative base, but it could also depress voter turnout. Republican Party officials were encouraging everyone to vote while also promoting a narrative that California’s election security can’t be trusted.

Long Beach voter Terry Sweeney voted in person Tuesday, even though she suspected the election was rigged. Sweeney said the general election was rigged and believed the recall election will be riddled with fraud. As proof, she said she and most people she talks to favor the recall, and yet Newsom could still prevail.

“You can vote one way and have a majority of people you ask .. .saying, ‘No, I don’t like him.’ I don’t want him here,” she said.

Still, Newsom faced a likely victory this week, most polls showed.

If he retains his seat, Sweeney said, “He’s going to say, ‘Well, look what I’m doing. Now I see the errors of my ways.’ But he’s still going to go out and have those $1,000 dinners. He’s still going to go out and have his cronies paid off. He’s still going to do what he’s going to do behind everyone’s back.”

Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney and the national committeewoman of the Republican National Committee for California, said she made a video with her husband showing how they cast ballots by mail and urged everyone to do the same.

But Dhillon added that she could not say whether California’s election is be safe and secure, detailing numerous problems that she said she and a team of attorneys monitoring the election have witnessed.

“There will be a lot of questions and potentially litigation after this election about this sloppy-at-best treatment of people’s ballots and their right to vote,” Dhillon said. “I think people have to get out there and vote. We have to document problems, and we have to litigate those problems.”

Much of the GOP criticism of California’s elections has focused on the wide use of mail-in ballots, which have been automatically sent to all active registered voters for state elections since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. An overwhelming majority of California voters cast ballots by mail even before the pandemic, and no widespread voter fraud issues have surfaced.

Pandemic Drove Voters
At voting centers on Tuesday, recall supporters said election fraud was a concern, but voters on both sides of the issue said the pandemic is what drove them to vote in the recall.
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Julie Castle, a Long Beach resident, told Patch she just recovered from a bout of COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. To her, it’s imperative that Newsom stays in office to help California navigate the remainder of the pandemic.

“I just think that he has done what he said he’s going to do, and I think the main problem is this COVID situation,” she said. “It’s no joke. People think it’s no big deal, but people my age and younger are dying all the time, and I just think he’s doing the right thing for California.”

Even if voters choose to stick with Newsom, a current of discontent remained among some voters — Republicans in particular.

“I think that you can’t make everybody happy,” Castle said. “I think the other side is so far against what he’s trying to do, and you can’t make both sides happy. I think he needs to continue on doing what he’s doing and sticking firm in protecting California from COVID.”

Amanda Thomas, a Republican Long Beach resident, said she voted for the recall in part because of Newsom’s heavy-handed approach to the pandemic.

Regardless of the recall election’s outcome, Thomas said she wanted to see less government involvement in placing coronavirus restrictions on businesses.

“How he handled our situation wasn’t the greatest,” she said of the pandemic. “I don’t think there’s really anything that he could do to change or at least change my mind. He’s had over a year to help, and he hasn’t.”

Peyton Beeli, 20, said she was voting to keep Newsom in office but admitted that the first-term governor could do more to connect and relate with voters.

‘Try To Be A Little More Genuine’
“To me, he just seems a bit disingenuous,” she said, referencing Newsom’s disastrous trip to the French Laundry restaurant during some of the direst months of the pandemic. “Some of the things he does just rubs me the wrong way. It’s kind of like he popped out of a politician machine,” she said. “Maybe try to be a little more genuine; maybe show people that he actually cares about California, like, local Californians, instead of his own career.”

Ultimately, Beeli said she’d still rather have him in office than a Republican. The thought of a conservative administration in California frightened her, she said. “Republican leadership in California is never something that I’ve experienced. I’m a young voter,” she said, adding, “I wouldn’t necessarily say I’d be willing to give it a chance.”

“I would be a little scared,” she said. “My roommate is from Dallas, and to see what’s going on in Texas, like, the abortion ban and everything … .”

Beeli hoped the recall election was a wake-up call for Democrats who may be apathetic about the political climate in the state.

“I would hope it’s kind of a moment saying, ‘Maybe Democrats in California aren’t as safe as we thought,'” Beeli said. “It’s time to maybe make more of an effort to appeal to voters more than just assuming that California is a blue state and will forever be.”

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