The California governor’s race has been a long and hard-fought battle, but it came to an end on Tuesday night. Newsom had a lead of over one million votes heading into the final day, but that lead was cut in half by fellow Democrat Delaney.
Submitted by Thomas Elias
According to popular belief, Gov. Gavin Newsom was empowered by defeating the recall election that was aimed at him. There has been speculation of an easy reelection next year, followed by a Senate bid in 2024 or perhaps a presidential run in 2024.
But this election wasn’t as simple as the final statistics suggest, and Newsom made a slew of errors en route to fending off a bid to dismiss him 14 months before the conclusion of the term he won in 2018.
Furthermore, although Newsom is expected to lead the Democratic field next year, he may face stiff competition in the June primary.
We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero
If the recall showed anything, it was that Newsom has earned a lot of enemies since his near-record 62-38 percent victory against Republican John Cox in 2018.
Part of it may be attributed to the pandemic, during which he took public health-related measures such as putting the overwhelming majority of the population into lockdowns inside their houses – assuming they had homes to begin with. He shut down businesses and churches, shut down most public transportation, and generally disrupted daily life in California, all thanks to executive orders made possible by a state of emergency declared without the state Legislature’s permission or participation.
As a result, allegations of authoritarian, one-size-fits-all conduct were leveled at him.
Despite this, Newsom was able to keep all of the previously well-known Democrats off the substitute governor list on the ballot.
Next spring, he may not be able to keep his party in line. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Newsom’s lost 2018 primary opponent, may oppose him, as could newcomers like Kevin Paffrath of Ventura, a 29-year-old financial blogger who received more votes than any other Democrat among the replacement candidates.
In the June election, there will very certainly be a lot of Republican resistance. The “Top Two” system, often known as the “jungle primary,” will be used in that election, with the two top vote-getters facing off in the November general election even if one of them gets a majority in the primary.
Talk show personality Larry Elder, the top replacement candidate who opposes almost all government restrictions as a GOP figure, is one of the Republicans who may run again next year. Elder pledged to repeal any state prohibitions on public meetings, as well as any government immunization and masking requirements, during the recall campaign.
From the day he pushed his way onto the ballot despite the concerns of Newsom’s chosen secretary of state, who noticed certain incomplete parts of tax documents he was obliged to make public, he campaigned as the anti-Newsom candidate.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is another Republican who is expected to run in the primary. He ran a fairly traditional campaign this year and will need to be more creative if he wants to have a shot next spring. Faulconer may also benefit from a boost in charm.
Despite his poor performance in the recall, Cox may give it another try. During a discussion, the San Diego County businessman was stopped and issued with a subpoena in a court lawsuit claiming he owes one company $100,000 in expenses incurred during his unsuccessful 2018 campaign.
There’s also Kevin Kiley, a Republican state assemblyman from the Sacramento suburbs who campaigned as the GOP’s most pure candidate during the recall election. During his tenure, Kiley was prone to spreading the odd debatable half-truth.
This didn’t receive a lot of votes in 2021, but things may change in June, when the electorate is likely to be much bigger than this month’s.
Any of these Republicans may run for the United States Senate against Democratic U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
In all of this, Newsom remains the primary character. He overcame acknowledged moral flaws in the recall election in 2018, but if other prominent Democrats, not just Republicans, are in the June field, things like his too-large and too-inside birthday party for a lobbyist buddy may come up again and strike him down.
All of this means that, although we know who will be governor of California for the next year, there is still a lot of uncertainty beyond that. Newsom, like most leaders who survive recall elections, is likely to emerge from the recall slightly diminished, rather than stronger.
Thomas Elias is an opinion writer for The and the Paso Robles Press; he can be reached at [email protected]
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