By Aron Solomon
The California recall election cost $276 million and it wasn’t even close.
How we ended up here was perfectly summarized on Tuesday by the New York Times:
“How a Democratic star in the bluest of blue states could have ended up confronting a recall remains one of the more remarkable mysteries of the moment.”
After five failed attempts under the Trump administration to get enough momentum for a recall, it was Newsom himself, literally unmasked and eating with lobbyists at French Laundry, that was sufficiently unpalatable to voters.
While California isn’t alone – 18 other states have legal processes for a recall election – no other gubernatorial recall has cost what this one has, and that’s not even counting the resources that went into the five failed attempts.
Here are some things that $276 million could have bought in California instead of a recall election:
- Funded 1.1 billion meals at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
- The student lunch debt not only for every family in California, but for every family in the United States of America
- Cover the upcoming year’s cost of plans to address homelessness in San Diego and 20 other California cities
- Cover the Medi-Cal monthly premium for one year for 1.8 million newborns
Or, you know, it can pay for a gubernatorial recall election.
Anything but a statesman, Elder led the pack throughout the polling and finished a solid second behind the governor on Tuesday. With 43 canadiates on the ballot, this was a real cornucopia of bad choices. Needing more than 50% of voters to vote “yes,” to recalling Governor Newsom, (he would have been replaced by Larry Elder, the opposing candidate with the most votes) as of sunrise on Wednesday in California, only one-third of voters supported the recall. Truly an embarrassingly and somewhat unpredictably low number given the predictions of pundits that it would be a very long night before a winner could be called.
While everyone is looking for larger messages to take from this recall vote, the safest one is that Governor Newsom fairly easily survived an ill-conceived recall. A year before the 2022 midterms, it is very difficult to draw a correlation between this recall result and a confirmation of the Biden Presidency. There are moments when politics exists in a vacuum, and this is best characterized as one of those. A large roster of politically weak fringe candidates didn’t have the desired effect on California voters, nor was the state electorate compelled to vote for change to replace a governor that history will treat as more embattled by the realities of COVID-19 and the rough national political terrain than his own ineptitude.
The realities in California this morning are more linear. This is a very Blue state that has an increasing number of registered Democrats and a dwindling number of registered Republicans. California is become more diverse by the year, which make the populist politics of the Larry Elders of the state something best left for conservative talk radio and not for practical application in California.
For those with their eye on the future rather than bemoaning a “rigged” recall vote that was certainly and absolutely fair, what comes next, at least for a while, is business as usual in California. No one should be the least bit surprised if this lopsided recall vote fuels a Presidential run at some point in the not too distant future for Governor Newsom.