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Recall Election: Will California Voters Oust Gov. Newsom & Embrace a Black Conservative Candidate?

© REUTERS / EVELYN HOCKSTEINU.S. President Joe Biden listens to Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, during a virtual meeting with governors to discuss efforts to strengthen wildfire prevention, preparedness and response efforts to the 2021 wildfire season, at the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex in Washington, U.S., July 30, 2021
U.S. President Joe Biden listens to Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, during a virtual meeting with governors to discuss efforts to strengthen wildfire prevention, preparedness and response efforts to the 2021 wildfire season, at the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex in Washington, U.S., July 30, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.09.2021
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California voters are set to decide on 14 September whether Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom will be removed from his post. The recall election, the first one in nearly two decades, presents voters with two questions: first, whether Newsom should be removed and, second, which candidate should replace him.
Recall supporters, who managed to collect the roughly 1.5 million signatures needed to put Newsom on the ballot, argue that the governor mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to tackle the state's homelessness problems, and supported sanctuary city policies while the migrant crisis was simmering at the southern border. For his part, Newsom denounced the effort claiming it is driven by "a ragtag crew of pro-Trump, anti-vaccine extremists".
© REUTERS / FRED GREAVESU.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an appearance with California Governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing a Republican-led recall election in September, in San Leandro, California, U.S., September 8, 2021
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an appearance with California Governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing a Republican-led recall election in September, in San Leandro, California, U.S., September 8, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.09.2021
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an appearance with California Governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing a Republican-led recall election in September, in San Leandro, California, U.S., September 8, 2021
Democrat heavy-weights have already indicated their support for the governor. Last week, vice-president Kamala Harris called upon Californians to oppose what she called a Republican-driven effort to recall Newsom. She specifically drew parallels between the GOP-controlled states which are pushing ahead with a conservative agenda and California, a liberal stronghold, insisting that the vote would indicate "who we are as a nation".

"What's happening in Texas, what's happening in Georgia, what's happening around our country with these policies that are about attacking women's rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, worker rights, they think if they can win in California, they can do this anywhere," the vice-president said. "We will show them you are not going to get this done."

Former president Barack Obama has also thrown his weight behind Newsom by releasing a political ad, and the incumbent president, Joe Biden, joined the California governor on Monday night in Long Beach. “The decision you are about to make is going to have a huge impact on California; it’s going to reverberate around the nation, and quite frankly — not a joke — around the world,” Biden told the audience on 13 September.
© REUTERS / MIKE BLAKERepublican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder makes a campaign stop outside a restaurant in San Diego, California, U.S. September 3, 2021
Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder makes a campaign stop outside a restaurant in San Diego, California, U.S. September 3, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.09.2021
Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder makes a campaign stop outside a restaurant in San Diego, California, U.S. September 3, 2021
A total of 46 candidates applied by the July 16 deadline to run against Newsom in the 14 September recall, including nine Democrats, 24 Republicans and 13 who are either from third parties or are non-partisan.
If the majority of Californians decide that the governor should be removed from office, the ballot's second question will determine who will become the head of the state. Any candidate needs a simple plurality to win, as there is no run-off in the recall election.
Conservative talk show host Larry Elder has become the clear frontrunner among GOP gubernatorial candidates. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey published on 10 September indicated that 38 percent of likely voters preferred Larry Elder over dozens of other challengers.
The African-American conservative candidate has already become a primary target of Democrats and Joe Biden, who dubbed Elder a "Trump clone". Elder has criticised the Biden administration's tax hike proposals and government regulations. The GOP candidate is also critical of the state's mask and vaccine mandates and minimum wage proposals. He previously lashed out at Black Lives Matter for rising crime stemming from the 2020 summer riots and defund-the-police movement. Elder also denounced the critical race theory (CRT) and told The Hill in February 2021, that "the idea that there’s systemic racism against Black people is a lie."
According to a conservative media outlet, The Daily Wire, Elder appears to be confident about his chances of winning the recall elections. However, Newsweek deems that though Elder is poised to outpace most of his peers in the race, his chances of beating Newsom are very small. Citing bookmakers Betfair, the media outlet noted that the GOP frontrunner's odds of winning most votes on the replacement ballot are 1/50. To complicate matters further, a Republican has not won a statewide election in California – a Democrat stronghold - in 15 years. In 2020, former president Donald Trump lost the state to Biden by more than 5 million votes.
Meanwhile, a number of surveys predict that Newsom is likely to stay. A Friday poll by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times showed that 60 percent of likely voters in California would vote to keep Newsom in office, and only 39 percent said they would vote to recall him. For its part, poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight has calculated that 57.3 percent would vote to "keep" and 41.5 percent to "remove".
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