CNN Projection: California Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in office

The polls have closed in California, where voters are deciding whether to remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office. The first returns are expected soon.

If a majority of voters vote “yes” to the recall, he’ll be out of office and the top vote-getter on the ballot’s second question – about who should replace Newsom – will take over.

The effort to oust Newsom, who was elected in 2018, was launched last year by conservative Californians critical of the governor’s record on multiple issues. The effort gained steam after criticism of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic. 

Newsom was the first governor to implement a stay-at-home order as the coronavirus spread unabated, a move later repeated in many other states. As the pandemic-induced restrictions implemented to quell the spread of the virus wore on frustrated residents, the recall movement picked up when Newsom visited Napa’s swanky French Laundry restaurant for a birthday party, a move he later called “a mistake.”

Conservative radio show host Larry Elder, Newsom’s leading challenger, campaigned on what he called Newsom’s “abject failure” in handling the Covid-19 crisis, and believes a strong showing of in-person voters will carry him to victory. Elder is one of 46 candidates vying to replace Newsom, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and the man Newsom beat in the 2018 election, John Cox.

There have been many attempts to recall governors throughout California’s storied political history, yet only once has the move been successful. In 2003, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was removed from office and replaced with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If Newsom retains his position as the leader of the most populous state in the nation, he will face a reelection contest next year. 

The recall election is expected to cost California more than $270 million.

cnn

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