California recall: Democratic governor survives bid to oust him

California Governor Gavin Newsom appears to have survived a rare state-wide vote to remove him with a clear majority, US media report.

Republicans launched the election over his handling of the pandemic.

The Democrat, currently in the third year of his four-year term, had faced a field of 46 candidates, and was expected to win by a large margin.

Both President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris campaigned with Mr Newsom ahead of the contest.

The BBC’s US partner CBS projects that the governor will prevail, with about two-thirds of voters backing him and more than 70% of the vote tallied.

“I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote,” Mr Newsom said in a victory speech in Sacramento.

The outcome has been closely watched as a bellwether for national 2022 elections.

Mr Newsom’s main rival, conservative radio host Larry Elder, claimed that the vote was rigged before polls even opened.

On the eve of the recall vote, Mr Biden appeared at a rally with Mr Newsom – a former San Francisco mayor – to tell voters that their choice will “reverberate around the world”.

President Biden campaigned with Mr Newsom one day before the vote.
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
image captionPresident Biden campaigned with Mr Newsom one day before the vote
The effort to unseat Mr Newsom has been driven by increasingly partisan politics, but gained steam after he was photographed dining at a fancy restaurant while urging Californians to stay home to avoid spreading Covid-19.

He apologised for the “bad mistake” but some voters found his actions to be hypocritical.
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media captionGovernor Gavin Newsom’s sleepy son invades the stage during his inauguration speech
Nearly 1.5 million signatures were gathered by petition (equal to 12% of the 2018 vote), meeting the bar for an election to decide whether Californians wanted to keep Mr Newsom in office, or replace him for the remainder of his term.

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Mr Newsom faced a ragtag group of mostly conservatives hoping to take his place, including reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who vanished from the campaign trail to film Celebrity Big Brother in Australia.

Keeping up with the Californians: Recall vote 2021
Fact-checking the people who want to run California
Republican John Cox drew attention for travelling with a live Kodiak brown bear as part of his “unleash the beast” campaign – he cast himself as the “beast” to Mr Newsom’s “beauty”.

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