SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) —
UPDATE: California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has defeated an attempt to oust him from office, overcoming Republican criticism of COVID-19 restrictions that shuttered schools and businesses, the Associated Press projects.
On Tuesday, Newsom became the second governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election. He framed the race as an epic struggle to protect California’s progressive values on climate change, immigration and abortion and women’s rights from far-right extremists and followers of former President Donald Trump.
The outcome was being watched nationally with the 2022 midterm elections on the horizon, when control of Congress again will be at stake.
(Updated 9/14/21 at 8:50 p.m.)
UPDATE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken a healthy lead in the recall election that aims to oust him from office as early and advance votes are counted. Millions of voters are left to be counted, including ballots cast Tuesday.
Democrats are more likely to vote early, and Republicans hoped for a strong showing during in-person voting. It's too early for The Associated Press to call the race.
The contest has hinged on how voters have judged the Democratic governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and determines if the nation’s most populous state will veer in a more conservative direction.
(Updated 9/14/21 at 8:45 p.m.)
INITIAL REPORT: Californians cast the last of the ballots on Tuesday that would decide whether Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to lead them or if the nation’s most populous state veers in a more conservative direction amid anger over his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsom was leading in polls ahead of Tuesday's election. He is only the fourth governor in U.S. history and the second in California to face a recall. He was elected in a landslide less than three years ago.
Voters were asked to answer whether Newsom should stay in his post and if he doesn’t, who should replace him. Dozens of candidates, most of them Republicans, were running for the seat.
The leading Republican candidate was conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who sought to become California’s first Black governor.
Many Californians voted in recent weeks by dropping off their ballots at designated boxes or by mail. Others chose to cast their ballots at vote centers on Tuesday, the last day to do so.
Few voting issues were reported on the final day of voting in California’s recall election Tuesday. But unsubstantiated reports from GOP party leaders threatened to hamper Republican turnout in the closely watched contest seeking to oust the Democratic governor.
Republican candidate Larry Elder's campaign had promoted a website asking people to sign a petition insinuating Newsom had already won the election because of fraud. Other Republicans worried the messaging could dissuade some GOP voters from voting. The language was removed by Tuesday.
Newsom called the fraud claims “a crock" as county officials stressed the security of the voting process.