Fate of California Gov. Gavin Newsom hangs on recall vote

  • A large screen shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he speaks at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.

    A large screen shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he speaks at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. Associated Press

  • Voters arrive to cast their ballots at the Lincoln Park Senior Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The recall election that could remove California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is coming to an end. Voting concludes Tuesday in the rare, late-summer election that has emerged as a national battlefront on issues from COVID-19 restrictions to climate change.

    Voters arrive to cast their ballots at the Lincoln Park Senior Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The recall election that could remove California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is coming to an end. Voting concludes Tuesday in the rare, late-summer election that has emerged as a national battlefront on issues from COVID-19 restrictions to climate change. Associated Press

  • Supporters cheer California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he arrives at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.

    Supporters cheer California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he arrives at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. Associated Press

  • Voters wait in line to cast their ballots for the California gubernatorial recall election at a vote center set up in the Beverly Hills City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Voters wait in line to cast their ballots for the California gubernatorial recall election at a vote center set up in the Beverly Hills City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Associated Press

  • Ana Claribel Salazar, 69, casts a ballot at a vote center set up at the Lincoln Park Senior Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The recall election that could remove California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is coming to an end. Voting concludes Tuesday in the rare, late-summer election that has emerged as a national battlefront on issues from COVID-19 restrictions to climate change.

    Ana Claribel Salazar, 69, casts a ballot at a vote center set up at the Lincoln Park Senior Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The recall election that could remove California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is coming to an end. Voting concludes Tuesday in the rare, late-summer election that has emerged as a national battlefront on issues from COVID-19 restrictions to climate change. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden, left, waves to the crowd as he walks toward the podium to join California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a rally ahead of Tuesday's recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.

    President Joe Biden, left, waves to the crowd as he walks toward the podium to join California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a rally ahead of Tuesday's recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden stands with Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., during a get out the vote rally at at Long Beach City College, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif., as Newsom faces as recall election on Tuesday.

    President Joe Biden stands with Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., during a get out the vote rally at at Long Beach City College, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif., as Newsom faces as recall election on Tuesday. Associated Press

  • Supporters of California Gov. Gavin Newsom wave signs and California flags while waiting for the arrival of the governor and President Joe Biden at a rally Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.

    Supporters of California Gov. Gavin Newsom wave signs and California flags while waiting for the arrival of the governor and President Joe Biden at a rally Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. Associated Press

  • Republican conservative radio show host Larry Elder, is surrounded by media while he visiting Philippe The Original Deli during a campaign for the California gubernatorial recall election on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles.

    Republican conservative radio show host Larry Elder, is surrounded by media while he visiting Philippe The Original Deli during a campaign for the California gubernatorial recall election on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. Associated Press

  • Republican conservative radio show host Larry Elder speaks at a rally for the California gubernatorial recall election on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Monterey Park, Calif.

    Republican conservative radio show host Larry Elder speaks at a rally for the California gubernatorial recall election on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Monterey Park, Calif. Associated Press

  • Caitlyn Jenner, gubernatorial candidate, casts her ballot for the California recall election at a vote center at City Hall in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Caitlyn Jenner, gubernatorial candidate, casts her ballot for the California recall election at a vote center at City Hall in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

  • Supporters hold up signs as California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.

    Supporters hold up signs as California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. Associated Press

  • Caitlyn Jenner, gubernatorial candidate, leaves after casting her ballot for the California recall election at a vote center at City Hall in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Caitlyn Jenner, gubernatorial candidate, leaves after casting her ballot for the California recall election at a vote center at City Hall in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

  • Republican conservative radio show host Larry Elder argues with a TV reporter during an interview after visiting Philippe The Original Deli during a campaign for the California gubernatorial recall election on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles.

    Republican conservative radio show host Larry Elder argues with a TV reporter during an interview after visiting Philippe The Original Deli during a campaign for the California gubernatorial recall election on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. Associated Press

  • California gubernatorial candidate and former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer poses outside the headquarters of the California Supreme Court in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.

    California gubernatorial candidate and former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer poses outside the headquarters of the California Supreme Court in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. Associated Press

  • Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, left, of Rocklin, a Republican candidate for governor in the Sept. 14 recall election, speaks with supporter Nancy Jiang during a campaign stop outside of Manual Arts High School, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles.

    Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, left, of Rocklin, a Republican candidate for governor in the Sept. 14 recall election, speaks with supporter Nancy Jiang during a campaign stop outside of Manual Arts High School, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden, center, smiles to the crowd as he is flanked by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.

    President Joe Biden, center, smiles to the crowd as he is flanked by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. Associated Press

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens to President Joe Biden at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens to President Joe Biden at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/14/2021 1:47 PM

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- After a campaign that laid bare divisions in America's most populous state, Californians on Tuesday were to decide whether to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in his job or to move the state in a more conservative direction.

Newsom was leading in polls but took nothing for granted, aggressively campaigning and bringing in national Democratic figures to urge voters to reject the recall.

 

He got a final push late Monday from President Joe Biden, who warned that the contest could shape the country's direction on the pandemic, reproductive rights and the battle to slow climate change. The results also are likely to influence the 2022 midterm elections, when control of Congress will be in play again. The party that controls the White House historically loses seats in midterms.

Biden, who defeated Republican President Donald Trump less than a year ago, said the issues that defined the 2020 race have been resurrected in California, with potentially disastrous results if Newsom is removed in the election that ends Tuesday.

Speaking to hundreds of cheering supporters during a twilight rally in the coastal city of Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, Biden referred to the leading Republican candidate, conservative talk show host Larry Elder, as a 'úclone'Ě of Trump.

'úCan you imagine him being governor of this state?'Ě Biden asked, as the crowd responded with shouts of 'úNo, no!'Ě

'úYou can't let that happen. There is too much at stake,'Ě the president said.

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'úThe eyes of the nation are on California,'Ě he warned. The recall vote is 'úgoing to reverberate around the nation and ... around the world.'Ě

Elder, seeking to become California's first Black governor, staged his capstone rally in nearby Orange County, where he urged supporters to reach out to friends and neighbors to vote. The GOP will need a heroic Election Day turnout to catch Democrats, who have been turning in mail ballots in larger numbers. Nearly 8.6 million of California's 22 million voters already have cast mail-in ballots.

'úMake sure you have your friends vote, vote, vote, and try and get 10 more friends to vote and hit every call, make every call, knock on every door, we're going to win this thing if we turn out the vote,'Ě Elder said from a hotel ballroom in Costa Mesa.

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, called the election an opportunity to change course in a state where Democrats hold a nearly 2-to-1 advantage among registered voters.

McCarthy cited homelessness, rising crime and the wildfire-driven closure of national parks, which he said was due to 'úforest mismanagement.'Ě

'úAnd you want to reward that?'Ě McCarthy said Tuesday on Fox News Channel's 'úFox and Friends. 'úThis is an opportunity to change the course.'Ě

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Newsom is the fourth governor in U.S. history and the second in California to face a recall. In 2003, Californians removed Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 'úTerminator" actor won re-election in 2006, the last time a GOP candidate won statewide office in California.


This recall was fueled largely by anger over Newsom's actions during the pandemic, which included imposing the nation's first statewide shutdown order. Critics said he was heavy handed, shuttering businesses and keeping children out of classrooms for longer than necessary. Newsom said his actions saved lives.


California voters have just two questions on Tuesday's ballot: Should Newsom stay in office? And if not, who should replace him? There are 46 replacement candidates to choose from. If voters keep Newsom, the results on the second question are irrelevant.

Beyond Elder, other prominent Republicans in the race include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and businessman John Cox. The best-known Democrat is Kevin Paffrath, a financial adviser with a large YouTube following.


How California votes could determine how aggressively Democrats campaign on COVID-19 restrictions that many Republicans have decried as unnecessary and overly burdensome.

Biden was last among a prominent list of Democrats to make appearances in the contest either in person or in ads, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former President Barack Obama.

Newsom's ouster would be a stunning rebuke in California, where the Democratic Party controls every statewide office and dominates the Legislature and the congressional delegation. Less than three years ago, he was elected in a landslide.

Biden's visit in the waning hours of the race was intended as a final effort to motivate the state's more than 10 million Democratic voters. Newsom's advisers expressed increasing confidence that the governor would survive the effort to drive him out more than a year before the end of his first term. The campaign had 25,000 volunteers on the streets over the weekend and has sent 31 million text messages to voters.

'úThere's no scenario where we lose tomorrow,'Ě Newsom strategist Sean Clegg said.

While Newsom has sought to nationalize the race, Republicans have criticized him relentlessly for high taxes, an unchecked homeless crisis, climbing crime rates and housing prices that are out of reach for many in the working class.

'úThere's no front that I can think of where this man has done a good job - not on schools, not on homelessness, not in the way he shut down this state,'Ě Elder said Monday.

In recent days, Elder suggested the results of the recall election could be skewed by unspecified 'úshenanigans,'Ě echoing Trump's baseless claims of voting fraud in his 2020 race with Biden.

There has been no confirmed evidence of widespread fraud. Elder's campaign website has linked to a 'úStop CA Fraud" site where people can sign a petition demanding a special legislative session to investigate the 'útwisted results,'Ě well before any results were announced.

Asked to provide evidence of any suspicious voting activity, Elder spokeswoman Ying Ma said the campaign wants 'úevery proper vote to be counted'Ě and 'úwhatever shenanigans there are will not stand in the way of him becoming the next governor.'Ě

___

Ronayne reported from Sacramento. Associated Press Writer Alexandra Jaffe contributed from Long Beach.

___

This story has been corrected; the 'úStop CA Fraud'Ě petition calls for a special legislative session, not a special election.

___

Catch up with AP's recall coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/california-recall

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