When Governor Gavin Newsom beat Republican challenger John Cox in 2018, it was considered a landslide. On September 14, Newsom won a recall election by an even larger margin.
At $300 million, was the recall worth the price?
“It was absolutely worth it,” said Ellen Woitalla, a recall organizer for the Central Valley.
“This isn’t the end but the beginning of change for California,” said Woitalla.
Vicki Riddle, a member of the Exeter Republican Women Federation and former Republican Woman of the Year for Central California, agreed.
“If you feel that California is on a trajectory that is harmful for the state then it is worth it because the recall shone a flashlight into a dark corner of California,” she said.
“We would still be in shutdown if not for the recall,” said Brad Maaske, Radio Talk Show Host for Real Talk. “Once the recall effort started Newsom pulled back on the shutdown and changed his entire tone. Once the recall started he wanted to get popular with everyone and not just his base,”
Brian Poochigian, a fiscal conservative and moderate Republican, flinched at the price tag.
“I don’t think it was worth it. But people weren’t happy and we have the mechanism in place to conduct a recall so the people should be allowed to utilize it,” he said. “I didn’t think Gavin would be recalled but I thought it would be closer.”
Statewide, 63.7% voted no on the recall and 36.3% voted yes.
In the Central Valley, the results were the opposite, except for Fresno and Merced County: at press time, their results are too close to call.
At the time of publication, the Tulare County Registrar of Voters reported 60.14% in favor of the recall and 39.8% opposed. The Kings County Registrar of Voters reported 62.7% voting in favor of the recall to 37.3% opposed.
The final numbers are not expected to significantly change.
Statewide, the gap between the two major parties’ registered voters closely reflects the gap between the yes vote and the no vote for the recall. The wildcard was those registered as No Party Preference (NPP), who seemed to lean towards voting against the recall.
When asked how Republicans can win office when they are the minority party, Woitalla said that is misinformation.
She said that California has a large group of Independent and NPP registered voters that do not identify with either party. Woitalla pointed out that the Republicans combined with the independents and NPPs make up a larger group than the Democrats.
“When we show them how conservative values can restore the state we can recruit the Independents and NPPs into the Republican Party. I invite those voters into the conservative party. We need to get them mobilized,” she said.
Riddle was a little more concerned about the future of the Republican Party.
“Unless we can make an agenda that people can really get behind the Republican Party in California will struggle for relevance. California has a lot of issues and the problem is we need to communicate our solutions better,” she said.
Riddle said that Democrats tried to rebrand the election as the “Republican recall” but that wasn’t true.
“We would not have been able to get to this point without some Democrats. It was an inclusive effort, Republicans and Democrats, that made the recall happen,” she said.
Riddle said that it was amazing that the recall even got on the ballot.
“People need to be congratulated.”
Out of Step with the rest of California?
It didn’t surprise Poochigian that the Central Valley voted opposite of the rest of the state.
“What is good for San Francisco and Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily work here,” he said.
Maaske said that the rest of the state is out of step with the Central Valley.
“We are the ones who feed the world,” he said. “The coastal elite are trying to tell us what to do and they are happy, driving out the middle class and killing small businesses with the shutdown.”
Woitalla agreed with Maaske.
“Ever since the state formed, the ag community has been the driving force behind the California economy, and when the elite in Sacramento don’t support ag,” she said, “they are the ones out of touch with the rest of the state.”
“We lost this little battle but Gavin will not have a day of peace. He was coasting through his term but it’s not going to be easy anymore. He will have a challenging year and a tough re-election,” she added.
“We have put him on notice.”