Newsom Wins California Recall Election; Elder Concedes

By Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.
September 14, 2021 Updated: September 18, 2021

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has defeated a recall bid seeking to oust him from office, with his chief rival, Republican candidate Larry Elder, conceding defeat.

Elder told a crowd of supporters on Sept. 14 that “we may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” suggesting that his first campaign may not be his last.

Unofficial results of the gubernatorial recall election as of 2:55 a.m. on Sept. 15 showed Newsom was likely to remain governor of California. About 63.9 percent of people were counted as voting “no” in the election, according to the California Secretary of State’s Office, while 36.1 percent voted “yes,” with all precincts partially reporting.

Newsom gave a victory speech on Sept. 14, saying that when Californians voted “no” on the recall, they were saying “yes” to his administration’s goals.

“We said yes to all those things that we hold dear as Californians, and, I would argue, as Americans—economic justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, our values,” Newsom said in his speech. “All of those things were on the ballot this evening.”

Elder received the most votes, at 46.9 percent, among candidates who would have replaced Newsom if he was recalled.

In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Newsom was elected by the widest margin in an election race since 1950. Since his time in office, Newsom has faced criticism for his decisions to close prisons, suspend the death penalty, enforce vaccine mandates, and enforce COVID-19 statewide restrictions.

The grassroots effort to recall the governor began in 2020, more than a year before the recall petition cleared on June 23, and state officials confirmed there were over 1,495,709 signatures, the amount required to hold a special recall election.

In previous interviews with The Epoch Times, recall organizers attributed the impetus of the recall campaign to the governor’s decisions regarding COVID-19 state-mandated shutdowns and restrictions.

At the height of the pandemic in November of last year, Newsom was heavily criticized for attending a party at the famed French Laundry restaurant in Napa without wearing a mask and with visitors from multiple households—despite telling state residents to stay home and avoid holiday gatherings.

Following the French Laundry incident, county registrar offices reported an increase of recall petition signatures by 596,721.

As the pandemic continued, California continued to release unemployment funds to residents whose jobs were lost due to the pandemic. As those eligible received additional funds, it was discovered more than $31 billion in state Employment Development Dept. funds were claimed by scammers, including prison inmates.

Epoch Times Photo
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters at AltaMed Urgent Care in Santa Ana, Calif., on March 25, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Amid the recall process, Newsom also faced critics who opposed his decision to allow 76,000 state inmates, including violent criminals and repeat felons, to exit prison earlier than their release date through the help of Proposition 57, which allows inmates to receive credits for good behavior.

Recently, California announced the mandate of vaccines for health care workers and school personnel. In health care workspaces, workers are required to receive the vaccine by Sept. 30. Workers who refuse to receive the vaccine and fail to obtain a religious or medical exemption will be out of a job come Oct. 1.

The last time a governor was recalled in the state was in 2003, when Gray Davis was in office. Arnold Schwarzenegger succeeded Davis after 55 percent of state voters voted “yes” on the recall.

On Sept. 13, President Joe Biden visited Long Beach to promote Newsom’s campaign, calling GOP candidate Elder a “clone of Donald Trump.”

Epoch Times Photo
Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder speaks to supporters during a rally in Westminster, Calif., on Sept. 4, 2021. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)

Elder—an Epoch Times contributor and host of “Larry Elder for The Epoch Times” on EpochTV—had said if elected governor, he would immediately move to end mask and vaccine mandates. He also said he would suspend the California Environmental Quality Act, noting its effect on the cost of new housing being built and other construction projects.

This article has been updated with information about Elder conceding.

Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.