Thursday, September 16, 2021

Newsom Prevailed on Strength of Coronavirus Response, But Failed on Everything Else. His Political Career's Still an Uphill Climb

California sucks. 

Come for the weather. Leave for the braindead leftist public policy failures.

At LAT, "A California in crisis awaits Newsom after landslide win in recall":

SACRAMENTO — Standing in an elementary school classroom in Oakland, Gov. Gavin Newsom paused when asked if he felt vindicated after voters saved his political career the night before and handed him a landslide victory in the recall election.

“I feel enlivened. I feel more energized, and I feel a deep sense of responsibility because people are counting on us and they need us. They need government, effective government,” Newsom said. “I’m also mindful of this: Challenges are in abundance in these positions.”

California voters and Newsom’s political allies stepped up to defend the governor from the GOP-led recall, delivering a win that helps pave the way to his reelection next year. Battle-tested but not bruised, the 53-year-old reaffirmed the mandate he walked into the governor’s office with three years ago after notching what appeared to be an even greater margin of victory Tuesday.

But just as wildfires, punishing drought, record homelessness, a housing shortage, a once-in-a-generation pandemic and a learning curve at the Capitol have challenged much of his term in office, Newsom returns to work facing those same problems and more.

“He has the same things to deal with today that he dealt with yesterday, minus the recall election,” said Dana Williamson, who worked as Cabinet secretary to former Gov. Jerry Brown. “I would think the election gives him a boost of confidence. He’s coming out of this in a stronger place than when he entered it, and it leveled his political playing field.”

With at least $24 million in his 2022 reelection campaign account and an activated army of union volunteers, Newsom will be a formidable incumbent when voters return to the polls next year, raising doubts that a well-known intraparty rival will step up to challenge him.

Newsom could also end up running against a cast of Republican candidates similar to the one he trounced Tuesday, some of whom have already announced their intentions to challenge him.

“There is no reelect after this,” said Dustin Corcoran, chief executive of the California Medical Assn.

Newsom’s campaign framed the recall as a proxy war against Trumpism playing out in a deep-blue state, shifting the focus off Newsom and his own record.

The governor took advantage of Larry Elder’s candidacy to contrast his leadership during the pandemic to the conservative talk show host’s promises to rescind mask mandates in schools and reverse the vaccine and testing rules Newsom ordered for healthcare workers, state employees, and teachers and school staff.

The decision to attack Elder’s position on vaccines proved smart in California and provided Newsom with an opportunity to tap into fears about the Delta variant and frustration with the unvaccinated. A recent preelection poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found strong support for requiring proof of vaccines for large outdoor events and to enter indoor businesses and predicted 80% of likely voters would be vaccinated.

“The campaign seized on that to create a simple choice for voters,” said Ace Smith, one of Newsom’s political advisors.

A week before the election, Smith argued that Sept. 14 would give Newsom “a clear mandate not only against the recall, but for sanity on something as important as public health.”

As a “final seal of approval” for his handling of the pandemic, Newsom’s triumph will also make it harder for Republicans to gain any traction during his reelection campaign with claims that he was too restrictive or took away personal freedom, said Juan Rodriguez, Newsom’s campaign manager.

The first governor in the nation to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, Newsom might be emboldened by Tuesday’s win to accelerate his approach to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democratic strategist Robin Swanson said many Californians, even Newsom supporters, are still frustrated from the school closures and shuttered businesses. She said the governor would be smart to acknowledge those feelings.

“People want to be heard in elections and the most gracious victors hear what their opponents say and hear what people say who didn’t vote for them,” Swanson said. “That’s how you build the sort of unity and healing that our state needs.”

In his brief election night speech, Newsom said he was humbled and grateful to the Californians who exercised their right to vote and expressed themselves “by rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism, by rejecting so much of the negativity that’s defined our politics in this country over the course of so many years.”

He extended more of an olive branch Wednesday...

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