By Jim EllisSept. 16, 2021 — California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) easily avoided being recalled in last night’s statewide election, but the margin will likely close once all of the ballots are received and finally counted. The reported results are largely from mail ballots received well before election day. The posted turnout totals exceed 9 million voters, and this number will continue to grow.
The NO option on the recall ballot, meaning the vote individuals cast in order to keep Gov. Newsom in office, is running just under 64 percent, but under the California system of ballot signature verification it will be several weeks before we see official final totals. California also allows a long post-election period for ballots postmarked on election day to be received. It is clear, however, that Newsom will survive in office by a wide margin, but with an end-result closer margin than we see in early returns.
Though the replacement election became moot with the recall being rejected, conservative commentator Larry Elder was the clear leader, recording a tick under 47 percent of the vote. The next closest candidate was Democrat Kevin Paffrath with 10 percent. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) finished third with just under 9 percent. John Cox (R), who was one of the leading recall effort funders and the finalist against Newsom in the 2018 election, fell back to less than 4.5% of the vote. Media star Caitlin Jenner (R), who proved not to be a serious candidate, scored just 1.1% in the replacement election.
All of the replacement candidates were at a disadvantage in terms of financial resources. Though Elder raised a reported $18 million, an impressive amount in a short time frame, Gov. Newsom spent possibly as much as $80 million.
The rules for Newsom, however, were different. Because he was the recall subject, and the people were deciding the question as to whether or not he alone should remain in office, the campaign financial structure for him was that of a referendum. Therefore, he could raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals and entities. The replacement candidates, because they were running in an election campaign, were bound by the state campaign finance laws that feature contribution amount limits.