The conspiracy-filled campaign of Larry Elder was defeated last Tuesday, giving Gov. Newsom a clear path to a 2022 victory.
By Riley Mulcahy
Any illusion of a GOP California was swiftly denied last Tuesday, as Governor Gavin Newsom defeated the Republican challenger, radio host Larry Elder. Elder based his campaign on “personal freedoms,” arguing that mask and vaccine mandates while Newsom ran on his record dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and referred to the recall as the “Republican Recall Effort”. As of the time of the writing of this article, Newsom beat Elder by roughly 30 percent of the vote, a victory for science and common decency.
If COVID-19 never existed, the recall simply would not have happened. Although conservatives point to wildfire safety and the homelessness in California, the primary catalyst of the recall is something out of a movie, a governor eating at a fancy restaurant (The French Laundry) during a time where he called for people to stay home. Although his timing was not the best, this is not a reason to recall a governor. Furthermore, Newsom followed the science involving vaccines, masks, and stay-at-home orders to protect the most vulnerable, which right now are the unvaccinated, and a large majority of those people supported the recall.
Although we now see that the recall efforts were a slim majority in the very liberal California, there was a real possibility of Newsom being recalled because there is a general apathy towards voting unless there is a buy-in from the voter (such as voting for the next President of the United States). The California GOP was grasping for straws to find a candidate who would be viable to replace Newsom. However, they found a Trump wannabe who questioned the validity of the election before the first ballot was cast.
According to Sonoma State professor David Mcaun, an expert in the ballot system, the cost of the recall for the state of California is around $450 million dollars, possibly $500 million dollars. Spending money frivolously is ironic for a party that prides itself on being “fiscally conserative” and supporting tax cuts. There is no accountability in the recall process, which means candidates like Larry Elder or Caitlyn Jenner are seriously considered (out of the 40 Republican candidates, Elder was by far the preferred Republican Party candidate). Elder is a fringe conservative who once equated reparations of slaves to the need for reparations of slave owners on Candance Owens’s radio show and said he would get rid of the minimum wage if elected.
The real hope is that Democratic voters turned out to support Newsom. The recall’s failure shows that most Californians are receptive to caring for one another and the environment. This joke of a recall attempt is not about Newsom or Elder. It shows the values that Californians have. Since Trump’s presidency, there is a particular fear that your neighbor might be a member of the alt-right or watch radio shows like Elder’s filled with misinformation. This fear makes people weary when a recall threatens a somewhat popular governor like Newsom.
For liberals, the victory last week shows that there is a chance that the highly competitive 2022 Senate race could be a big win for Democrats across the country. However, this should not be the overall message of the recall. Yes, Newsom’s victory shows that the majority of California believes in the values of the Democratic party; however, this was such a unique circumstance. The notion that the recall election went through should be problematic and they mustn’t get hooked on this feeling that the Senate will be easy to flip. The Republican Party has enjoyed its fifteen minutes of disruption in the Senate. Going forward, if the Democratic party does not get more progressive and put their money behind the same people, it will be a long fight in 2022.
Newsom might have a more challenging fight to stay in office in 2022 if he is primaried. However, suppose he ends up being the Democratic candidate. In that case, the recall shows that although Newsom has some flaws that conservatives love to point out, he protected Californians from a global pandemic, even creating a budget surplus in the process.
Ryan Ford '23,