UC Berkeley community responds to Newsom’s victory in CA recall election

photo of a recall ballot
Connor Lin/Senior Staff
After California Gov. Gavin Newsom won the recall election, UC Berkeley students and faculty express relief regarding the state's future.

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After California Gov. Gavin Newsom was projected to win the gubernatorial recall election Sept. 14, the UC Berkeley community responded with varying degrees of relief and lack of surprise.

Political website FiveThirtyEight reported that, as of press time, 64% of Californians voted to keep Newsom in office, with 71% of ballots accounted for thus far.

Henry Brady, a campus professor of political science and public policy, described these election results as a “tremendous endorsement” for Newsom, especially for an off-cycle election.

“This is all going to be about turnout, and it turns out the turnout is pretty high,” Brady said. “It’s not just that (Newsom) won, it’s how he won with such a big ‘no’ vote.”

With regard to turnout on campus, around 3,000 people used the accessible voting location at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building, according to Sam Warren, chief of staff for the ASUC External Affairs Vice President office. Warren added the ASUC also focused on outreach, encouraging people to register to vote and advertising secure ballot box locations.

As an individual, Warren said she was happy Newsom would stay in office until next year, and was “very pleased” at the voter turnout.

Campus junior Ava Currie also expressed relief that Newsom won the election, but conceded she did not approve of the controversies that plagued the past year of his term.

“I’m not in love with Newsom. There’s a lot of issues that came up, especially during COVID,” Currie said. “For the general picture, I think this was the best course for California.”

Currie added Newsom’s climate change policies were one of the primary reasons she voted “no” to the recall, fearing other candidates would undo some of Newsom’s progress.

Like Currie, campus senior Sam McGinnis voted not to recall the governor largely because of Newsom’s climate policies and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. They expressed similar concerns to Currie that climate policies would be “a lot worse” under a Republican governor.

However, McGinnis did not express the same relief about Newsom’s projected victory.

“It was expected,” McGinnis said. “I honestly didn’t feel that much relief because I don’t have a lot of love in my heart for Gavin Newsom.”

In addition to discussing the results, the campus community also looked ahead to the future of recall elections in the state.

Brady further called the recall process in California a “terrible system” because any of the candidates to replace Newsom could have won with less than a quarter of the popular vote.

“I would call it a frivolous election,” Brady said. “It really is a time when we should think about reforming some of our old antiquated processes like this recall.”

Riley Cooke is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @rrileycooke.