Random Lengths News
Biden Visit Delivers Final Punch
Recall Rejected At Polls
After a serious mid-summer scare, Gov. Gavin Newsom handily survived only the second gubernatorial recall election in California history, with a margin so resounding that his Trumpian lead opponent, Larry Elder, conceded the election 26 hours in advance — claiming the election was stolen — of course! Networks called the results barely 30 minutes after the polls had closed. The recall was getting shellacking by almost 64% as of press time, Wednesday morning.
The scare came via a trio of polls — two showing the recall virtually tied, one showing it well ahead — but it seemed to be just what was needed to wake Democrats up, as epitomized by an election eve rally at Long Beach City College, headlined by President Joe Biden, who praised Newsom for his leadership in fighting COVID, fighting global warming, and defending women and workers, while attacking Elder as “a clone of Donald Trump.”
“You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you’ll get Donald Trump,” Biden said.
“It’s not a joke. A Republican governor blocking progress on COVID-19 who is also anti-woman, anti-worker, a climate [change] denier who doesn’t believe in choice ... The choice should be absolutely clear — Gavin Newsom. You have a governor who has the courage to lead.”
Newsom himself had a similar message.
“We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpism,” he warned. “Trumpism is still on the ballot in California.”
Elder’s premature, evidence-free voter fraud claim only
seemed to underscore the Democrats’ argument.
But Newsom also stressed the positive side of what Trumpism threatened.
“We’re also celebrating the fact that we’re in Long Beach, one of the most diverse cities, in the most diverse county, LA County, in the most diverse state, California, in the world’s most diverse democracy, the United States of America.”
While anti-immigrant racism was the fuel that drove the recall — as reflected in both the petitions and the ballot arguments—this was, above all, a COVID election. In the beginning, COVID made it all possible: Newsom’s violation of his own stringent lockdown measures gave signaturegatherers the boost they needed, aided by a 90day extension also due to COVID. But in the end, COVID made it not even close.
“[Eighty] percent of the people who vote in California are going to be vaccinated,” Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, said on MSNBC’s The Last Word. “I think you’re looking at 22... It shows that Democrats can make an appeal — not just to their base... but to independents and Republicans that are vaccinated — that Republicans have been irresponsible, [and that] you cannot trust them.”
And the exit polls bore him out. A plurality thought that Newsom’s COVID policies had been “about right,” while 17% thought they weren’t strict enough. Only about a third — the size of Trump’s base — thought Newsom’s policies were too strict.
And COVID was the very first thing that Biden focused on in Long Beach.
“There’s too much at stake,” Biden said. “First, voting no will be protecting California from Trump
Republicans trying to block us from beating this pandemic.”
While Biden naturally drew national attention, it was the whole structure of the rally that embodied what Democrats were fighting to protect against the recall, both including and going beyond the immediate grave threat of COVID. It began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by a dreamer from Long Beach and the National Anthem, sung by a critical care nurse from San Diego. It was followed by three labor leaders declaring their readiness to fight. Then a string of local political leaders leading up to the full slate of statewide elected leaders whose racial and gender diversity epitomized the constituency they represent, and culminating with Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, his appointee, Newsom himself, and President Biden.
Speaking to Newsom on behalf of labor, Ron Herrera, President of the LA County Federation of Labor, set the tone at the start. “We’ve turned out thousands of boots on the ground to fight this antiunion, anti-labor, Republican recall,” Herrera said, “We have your back, just like you have ours.”
Supervisor Janice Hahn kicked off a parade of local political leaders.
“Gov. Newsom has championed more progressive policies than any governor in the history of California,” Hahn said.
Calling the election “A big test for our nation,” State Senator Lena Gonzalez first struck the rally’s dominant theme.
“We defeated Trump in 2020, but we didn’t defeat the extremist rightwing forces that Trump empowered. They’re back at the ballot box tomorrow in California,” she warned. “This Teamster truck driver daughter is going to vote no!”
“This recall is just another attack on our democracy,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal echoed.
On the positive side, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis introduced the statewide officers—three of whom are women, and none of whom — aside from Newsom — are white men.
“You may look up here and see a lot of diversity,” Kounalakis said, “But I will tell you there are many things that we all have in common: Number one, every single one of your elected statewide officials in the state of California is a Democrat. We all fight for progressive democratic values. We all believe in a woman’s right to choose. We all stand with our brothers and sisters in labor. We all believe that healthcare is a human right. And we believe climate change is real. And of course we all believe in a science-based approach to dealing with the COVID crisis, unlike every single one of those Republicans who are trying to replace our fantastic governor, Gavin Newsom.”
“We celebrate our diversity in this city. We celebrate our diversity in this state. And at our best we celebrate our diversity in the United States of America,” Newsom said. “What makes California great is that we can live together and advance together and prosper together across every conceivable difference. It’s a remarkable thing. It really is.
“And I want you to all know that that issue, the issue of diversity, of pluralism, the issue that defines so much of our politics — it’s all on the ballot tomorrow night. Racial justice is on the ballot tomorrow night. Economic justice is on the ballot tomorrow night. Social justice is on the ballot tomorrow night. Long Beach environmental justice is on the ballot tomorrow night.”
Perhaps most importantly, Newsom reminded us, “The future doesn’t just happen, you have to make it so. It’s our decisions, not our conditions that determine our fate and future.”