Where does Newsom go from here with the recall behind it?

Standing in an Oakland elementary school classroom, Governor Gavin Newsom paused when voters were asked if he felt vindicated after saving his political career the night before, and won a landslide victory in the recall election.

“I feel revitalized. I feel more energetic and feel a deep sense of responsibility because people trust us and they need us. They need government, effective government,” Newsom said. “I also note that challenges abound in these positions.”

California voters and Newsom’s political allies stepped in to protect the governor from the GOP-led recall, securing a win that paved the way for his reelection next year. The battle-tested but uninjured 53-year-old reaffirmed the post he entered for the governor’s office three years ago after making what appears to be an even bigger margin of victory on Tuesday.

But as wildfires, drought punitiveness, record homelessness, housing shortages, the one-generation epidemic, and the learning curve at the Capitol have strained most of his tenure, Newsom is back to work facing the same challenges and more.

“He has things he has to deal with today, minus the recall election,” said Dana Williamson, who worked as Cabinet secretary for former Governor Jerry Brown. “I think the election gave him a boost of confidence. He is coming out of this situation stronger than when he entered, and that has leveled his political playing field.”

With at least $24 million in his 2022 re-election campaign account and an active army of union volunteers, Newsom will be on a difficult task when voters return to the polls next year, raising suspicions that a prominent intra-party rival will step up to challenge him.

Newsom may also run against a number of Republican candidates similar to the one he defeated Tuesday, and some may have already announced their intention to challenge him.

“There’s no re-election after that,” said Dustin Corcoran, CEO of California Medical Assn.

Newsom’s campaign framed the recall as a proxy war against Trumpism played out in an azure situation. shifting focus from Newsom and own record.

The governor took advantage of Larry Elder’s candidacy to compare his leadership during the pandemic with the conservative talk show host’s promises to repeal mask mandates in schools and reverse Newsom’s vaccination and testing rules ordered for health workers, government workers, and teachers and school staff.

The Elder’s decision to attack his stance on vaccines proved wise in California and gave Newsom an opportunity to capitalize on fears about the Delta variant and frustration with the unvaccinated. A Recent election poll from the California Institute of Public Policy found strong support for requiring proof of vaccination for major outdoor events and entering closed businesses, and estimated that 80% of prospective voters would be vaccinated.

“The campaign took advantage of this to create a simple election for voters,” said Ace Smith, one of Newsom’s political advisers.

A week before the election, Smith argued that September 14 would give Newsom “a clear mandate not only against recalls, but also for mental health on an issue as important as public health.”

Newsom’s Juan Rodriguez said that as a “final seal of approval” for Newsom to deal with the pandemic, Newsom’s victory would also make it harder for Republicans to gain traction during the re-election campaign with allegations that he was too restrictive or took away his personal freedom. campaign manager.

Newsom, who is the first governor to issue a statewide stay-at-home order across the country, may be encouraged to step up its approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic with Tuesday’s win.

Democratic strategist Robin Swanson said many Californians, even Newsom supporters, are still disappointed with school closures and businesses closing. He said it would be wise for the governor to acknowledge these feelings.

“People want to have their voices heard in elections, and the most elegant victors hear what their opponents say and what those who didn’t vote for them say,” Swanson said. “This is how you build the unity and healing our state needs.”

In his short speech on election night, Newsom said he was grateful to Californians who exercised their right to vote and expressed themselves “by refusing to divide, rejecting cynicism, rejecting much of the negativity that defines our politics on this issue.” country for many years.”

On Wednesday, he extended another olive branch.

“Based on this recall, I want to turn the page and express a deep sense of respect and responsibility not only to those who voted no in this recall, but also to those who voted yes,” Newsom said. Said. “They are important. I care and I want them to know that I will do my best to watch their back.”

During the campaign, Newsom said little about his agenda in the final year of his first term, and displayed discipline unconventional for a governor who was notorious for making excessive promises and first-time splurges ahead of the 2018 election. office.

His management style has sparked criticism that he is a disorganized leader with more priorities than his staff can handle, resulting in gradual progress rather than the blockbuster results he promised, which Californians expect of him. Even before Newsom took office a New Yorker article “The biggest threat to becoming a successful governor is my profound inability to divide what I want to achieve into one or two issues.”

In an interview days before the election, Newsom dismissed the idea that he should refocus on a smaller target plate.

“Oh no. Because to me, that’s not a criticism I embrace or accept,” he said. “It’s not self-criticism, it’s the opposite.”

On Wednesday, the governor said he asked elementary school students to name the three most important issues in the state of California.

“I’m not making this up,” Newsom said. “They said climate change, homelessness and education financing, and then added to their credits, sexism, racism and healthcare. You don’t need focus groups. You don’t need opinion polls to tell you what to focus on. And I want people to know that this is exactly what we’re focusing on in this state.”

The governor added that the election gave him more awareness of the limited time he had to achieve the goals he set out in 2018. He especially talked about his renewed energy on housing, homelessness and climate change.

Battered by worsening drought and uncontrollable wildfires, Newsom has tough decisions ahead of her.

In the final days of the campaign, he spoke frequently about the climate crisis, which some of his aides said he would focus more on when he finishes his first term and begins to emerge from the shadow of Brown’s climate legacy.

Faced with expectations that the drought will worsen next year, Newsom will likely have to do more than ask residents to voluntarily cut their water use.

“The dire state of this year’s drought is really just the beginning of a much more significant drought next year,” said Daniel Zingale, Newsom’s former adviser on the Delta Governing Council. “This is a year when most of our warehouses are depleted, but next year will really hit the state even harder and require the governor and others to understand how we’re going to deal with it.”

At the same time, Newsom will have to contend with the ever-present threat of wildfire. The number of acres burned this year is currently behind the total at this point in 2020. But strong winds and dry conditions in the fall could mean more devastating fires on the horizon.

And despite Newsom’s high promises to fix homelessness and build more affordable housing in 2018, more people are on the streets and owning homes remains a hollow dream for many Californians. Newsom campaigned on single-payer healthcare three years ago, and House Democrats may introduce a bill next year to set the model in California.

Ultimately, whether Newsom will be able to use the recall to make progress on the biggest issues depends largely on whether he chooses to lead as captain of the Democratic team and whether he supports some of his difficult relationships with the Legislature and interest groups in the House.

A day after the election, the International Union of Service Workers pointed out that ordinary workers and grassroots volunteers deserved praise for getting the voters out. At a Zoom event Wednesday morning, they said their efforts had resulted in more than a million conversations with voters in the eight weeks leading up to election day.

“Last night’s victory was for a victory by laborers and laborers,” said Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99.

Arias said workers were not campaigning for Newsom with any specific questions or expectations about entering next year.

“They came about because that’s exactly how we built the power,” Arias said. “We expect and hope that the governor will continue to work in partnership with working people to continue improving the lives of working people and all Californians.”

But three months ago, Arias and union workers met at the Capitol for childcare workers, urging Newsom to complete their contracts and raise rates. State Senate and Assembly leaders spoke in agreement with the workers at the rally.

Arias said childcare workers supported the governor at the time, but were “disappointed and confused” by his inaction and were “ready to fight”.

The governor eventually reached an agreement with the union, but the incident epitomized tensions in Sacramento. The governor’s stand-alone approach to dealing with the pandemic and his occasional effort to work out the details of his policies have heightened these feelings of insecurity and frustration.

The recall election required the governor to rebuild a coalition of various unions, Realtors, developers, tribes and other groups that funded his campaigns, while also giving him a clean slate advantage.

“You don’t enjoy going through these, but sometimes, you know, when you look back you may be at the beginning of something better,” Zingale said.

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