California Gov. Gavin Newsom fought off a recall that would have removed him from office and will remain as head of the nation's most liberal state, multiple outlets report. The election was called with about 60% of ballots counted, with "no" on the question of whether to recall Newsom ahead by a 2-to-1 margin in a vote largely built on mail-in ballots, per The Associated Press.
"While likely to shrink somewhat in the days ahead as votes cast at polling places are counted, the lead that Newsom took among votes cast before Election Day—which were counted first Tuesday night—was insurmountable," per AP.
Newsom, who angered many Californians with his restrictive COVID-19 policies, which included deeming churches "nonessential" and resulted in both lawsuits and Supreme Court victories for churches such as Pastor Ché Ahn's Harvest Rock Church, touted his defeat of the recall as a defeat of "Trumpism," which he said last night is "not dead in this country."
In a Tuesday campaign stop, the governor defended his actions surrounding the coronavirus, telling supporters, "We cannot let that progress to be stalled. We cannot allow the economy, not just our public health, to be impacted by a wrong decision tonight."
Newsom continues to push the progressive agenda popular in the Golden State.
"'No' is not the only thing that was expressed tonight," he said in a press conference less than an hour after polls closed. "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."
His remarks echoed much of his pre-vote rhetoric, in which he cast the recall as a Republican power grab by Trump-supporting conservatives.
Newsom's effort was aided with an infusion of tens of millions of dollars from big donors, including liberal philanthropist George Soros, in recent months, per The New York Times.
Conservative talk show host Larry Elder, considered the frontrunner of the 46 candidates offered on the ballot as potential alternatives to Newsom, also addressed his supporters after the report on the vote. "Let's be gracious in defeat. We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war," Elder said.
Newsom remains governor but will gear up for battle again soon. He is up for reelection in 2022.
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