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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has prevailed over a recall effort aimed at removing him from the state’s top job.
Less than an hour after polls closed Tuesday night, The Associated Press and CNN projected the majority of California voters voted “no” in the recall election. The only time a California governor has been recalled was in 2003, when film star and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger unseated then-Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat.
Forty-six candidates, including reality-television star Caitlyn Jenner and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, ran to replace Newsom in the Tuesday election. In recent months, conservative talk-show host Larry Elder emerged as the frontrunner and garnered the support of right-leaning Hollywood types like Scott Baio, Jon Voight, Dean Cain and Chuck Norris; Rose McGowan also supported Elder and appeared with him at a campaign rally on Sunday. Former members of Friends of Abe, the conservative industry group that once boasted thousands of members, also met to organize on behalf of Elder, Newsweek has reported.
Conversely, the recall effort also activated Hollywood progressives, who joined the likes of Democratic leaders including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in combatting the push to remove Newsom. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings donated $3 million to Newsom’s political action committee fighting the recall, while other Hollywood pledges came from former Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg ($500,000), director Steven Spielberg ($25,000), Walt Disney Television chairman of entertainment Dana Walden and producer Matt Walden ($15,000), media mogul Byron Allen ($10,000) and music legend Barbra Streisand ($2,500). In August, Katzenberg, Casey Wasserman, Andrew Hauptman and Van Fletcher helped co-host a Zoom event attended by entertainment types that raised funds to fight the recall.
In recent days, Josh Gad, Mark Hamill, Yvette Nicole Brown, Rob Reiner and Mia Farrow all shared messages of support for Newsom’s continued leadership. “Thanks for your leadership in the Golden State, Governor @GavinNewsom! TODAY every reasonable Californian will avoid electing a spectacularly unqualified radio talk-show host & tRump-wannabe by overwhelmingly rejecting the Republican Recall,” Hamill wrote in a tweet on Tuesday, urging Californias to vote “no” on the ballot.
The once-marginal recall effort gained steam over the course of the pandemic. In the fall of 2020 a judge offered recall organizers several additional months to collect signatures due to COVID-19, at a time when anger was spreading over the state’s response to the virus and Newsom’s appearance at a lobbyist birthday party at the high-end restaurant French Laundry during a time when such gatherings were discouraged by state health officials. (“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” Newsom said in a statement at the time.) However, recent polls suggested that Newsom had a decent chance of surviving the recall, and his approval rating remained high going into Tuesday’s election, according to a Spectrum News and Ipsos poll published earlier this month.
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