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Phew. Newsom survives recall. California saved.

This editorial appeared in the L.A. Times.

Phew.

After months of worrying about the fate of California, we will sleep easier now that Gov. Gavin Newsom will not be removed from office early and replaced by right-wing provocateur Larry Elder, a radio host with no experience in elective office and who doesn’t seem interested in being a governor for all Californians — only those who share his extremist, intolerant views.

Californians voted overwhelmingly to support Newsom. This is what the recent polls predicted, based on the early and heavy turnout of Democratic voters, who outnumber Republicans nearly 2-to-1 in California.

Elder, as expected, led the field of replacement candidates. He admitted defeat Tuesday night, telling supporters: “We may have lost the battle. But we’re going to win the war.”

Voters evidently saw through the smokescreen that recall proponents threw up about how Newsom was responsible for every bad thing that has happened in California over the last few years: wildfires, COVID-19, homelessness, crime, income equality, and on and on.

The decision to reject the recall is the best outcome for California. Even if you dislike Newsom, it would have been a disaster to abruptly hand over leadership of the state to Elder or any of the other 45 people listed on the replacement ballot in the middle of a public health crisis and with a regular election little more than a year away.

While recall is an important tool for democracy, it should be used sparingly and only in cases of clear dereliction of duty — and certainly not as a cynical ploy by political opponents to remove a legitimately elected governor.

It’s unfortunate taxpayers had to spend between $200 million and $400 million to hold an election that didn’t change anything. But it could pay off down the road if it convinces the state’s Republicans that using the recall isn’t a fair, honorable — or even effective — way to win office. Yes, it worked in 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Gov. Gray Davis, but that was an unique situation driven in large part by the fame of the winning candidate.

If Republicans want to end the “one-party rule” in California, then it’s up to them to develop a platform that appeals to voters, rather than trying to gain power by gaming the state’s direct democracy system.

 

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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