California Gov. Gavin Newsom comfortably survived the recall vote on Sept. 14, with the majority of Californians voting to keep Newsom in office.
After being introduced in February 2020, the recall gained traction due to Newsom’s handling of COVID-19, especially concerning schools. Along with some Californians’ belief that Newsom’s plan for in person schooling was indecisive and apathetic, Newsom’s handling of COVID-19 and his private dinner contradicting his own COVID-19 safety guidelines were all driving factors for the recall.
“We had a perfect storm with the judge’s ruling, with the French Laundry incident, with the greater environment of COVID and the economic disaster,” director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at the University of Southern California Mindy Romero said to the Associated Press.
The recall involved 46 candidates, largely Republican, to replace Newsom as governor. Most notably, conservative talk show host Larry Elder led the charge to replace Newsom, along with California’s fair share of extravagant candidates like Olympian and reality TV Star Caitlyn Jenner and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath.
Elder amassed 2.3 million votes in the recall, but fell short in order to replace Newsom. In order for Elder to become governor, he would have needed a majority to vote yes on the first question of the ballot, as well as the majority in the election.
“Although the recall of Governor Newsom was necessary in my eyes, a candidate like Elder didn’t fit the description of a real governor,” junior Corey Okamoto said. “Not only did he represent a growing state of far-right commentators, but his policies—not including the education system—scared me and didn’t represent the state of California and its voter base.”
One of the main policies that Elder ran on was school choice. Elder believed that school districts should allocate funds towards allowing parents to choose what type of education they wanted for their children, be it private or public schools.
“School choice is not a panacea, especially without strong parental involvement,” Elder said. “School choice benefits children of parents who preach that education and hard work are key to upward mobility.”
Elder also intended to do away with all state-wide mask and vaccine mandates in order to curb the pandemic. He believed that young people were less susceptible to COVID-19, specifically noting that students did not need to be vaccinated or wear masks in school.
“I think Newsom’s recall win is much safer for students in school,” junior Johnny Jang said. “Elder’s policies regarding vaccines and masks in school were too lenient and would have resulted in another surge of the pandemic.”
Elder stated he was unsure if he would run for governor again in the future. After winning 64% of the votes on the ballot’s initial question, Newsom thanked Californians after the polls closed on Sept. 14.
“No is not the only thing that was expressed tonight. We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic,” Newsom said. “We rejected cynicism and bigotry and chose hope and progress. Thank you, California.”