Winning more than 60 percent of the vote, Newsom defeated politicians such as former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, conservative radio host Larry Elder, and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner. On the ballot, voters could choose to recall Newsom or to keep Newsom in office, and they could vote for a replacement candidate.
Multiple factors were involved in some Californians’ decision to recall Newsom. The original petition, which obtained the signatures of 12 percent of Californians, called for Newsom to be removed from office due to high rates of homelessness, lofty taxes, and failure to enforce immigration laws. Newsom’s COVID-19 protocol was also an important factor in the election.
Audrey Miller, a Berkeley High School (BHS) senior, was a poll worker at the Methodist Church on Hopkins St. during the recall election, which she said gave her further insight into American voting as a whole.
“It was really interesting being able to meet new people and be a part of the democratic process, especially as a young person,” Miller said. “The youth don’t usually vote, so it was great to learn more about the process and work for a really great cause at the same time,” she said.
Newsom received support from California Democrats, who were worried about his replacement’s possible COVID-19 protocols. Newsom’s handling of the pandemic encouraged some Californians to support him.
Nikola Simon, co-president of the BHS Speech and Debate team, agreed with this sentiment. “I think [Newsom] did a remarkably good job, especially for such a large state. At the state level, the response was very organized, with different tiers of COVID-19 restrictions,” he said.
Elder, a conservative talk show host and Newsom’s leading competitor in the recall, proposed a different handling of the pandemic than Newsom, illustrated by his promise to repeal all California mask and vaccination mandates if he won the election. Elder also has a history of misogynistic comments, making remarks such as “Women know less than men about political issues, economics, and current events.”
Newsom has had his own controversy. In November of 2020 Newsom was seen eating at a high-end restaurant in a large group, breaking his own COVID-19 rules.
While Newsom will remain in office, in every county that voted to recall him, Larry Elder won as his replacement. Elder received more than 2.8 million votes, with the next most popular candidate receiving only 590,000.
Newsom will run for re-election in the next official gubernatorial race in November 2022.