In summary

Though county elections officials still have many ballots to count, media outlets quickly called the recall for Gavin Newsom to keep him in office. Candidates pivoted to the 2022 election.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is keeping the “Gov.” in front of his name — and it looks as though he was never in real danger of losing it.

Pre-dawn — with some 9.1 million ballots counted so far — 64% of voters opted to keep Newsom in office, compared to 36% who wanted to recall him, according to a CalMatters live tracker of election results. Conservative talk show host Larry Elder was leading the pack of replacement candidates at 47% of the vote, with Democratic real estate investor and YouTube personality Kevin Paffrath a distant second at less than 10%.

Though county elections officials still have many ballots to count — and the results won’t be certified until Oct. 22 — the Associated Press and numerous other outlets called the race for Newsom on Tuesday night, indicating his lead is wide enough to keep him in office even if most of the remaining votes support the recall. Elder, who alleged days before the election that the results would be “twisted,” conceded the race on Tuesday night, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall and Sameea Kamal report.

Minutes after the AP called the race in Newsom’s favor, the governor gave a brief speech at the California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento.

  • Newsom: “‘No’ was not the only thing that was expressed tonight. I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state. We said yes to science, yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to diversity, we said yes to inclusion, we said yes to pluralism.”

In many ways, the recall is already old news. With Newsom’s projected victory, Californians have turned their attention to the 2022 gubernatorial election. Elder, who on Tuesday called himself “a political force here in California,” seems likely to run again — potentially boosting Black conservatism in the Golden State. Meanwhile, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is hinting that Newsom needs to deliver on his ambitious campaign promises — such as single-payer health care — if he wants to retain its support next year, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

At the same time, labor unions and other advocacy groups are emphasizing the role their voter outreach programs played in leading Newsom to victory — potentially a nudge for the governor to sign pro-worker legislation on his desk.

As for the state Legislature, it’s already full steam ahead on reforming California’s recall process. Today, the Democratic leaders of the Assembly and Senate elections committees are slated to announce their “plans to fix a broken recall system.” And later this month, the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, will discuss whether to study possible changes to the recall system.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 4,372,806 confirmed cases (+0.3% from previous day) and 66,813 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data.

California has administered 48,043,678 vaccine doses, and 68.3% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.

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1. CA outperforming other states on COVID

Image via iStock

California is one of only three states where coronavirus transmission levels have dropped from “high” to “substantial,” according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though that could change when the agency takes into account three days of unreported cases from Los Angeles County — which were delayed due to system updates — the positive news, paired with Newsom’s victory, suggests not only that California’s strict pandemic measures are working but also that voters approve of them. That could increase the state’s political appetite for even tougher measures — in a Tuesday op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, two UCSF professors of emergency medicine argue that California should require residents to show proof of vaccination or immunity in order to enter any public space.

  • Drs. Jeanne Noble and Maria Raven: “This may feel like a radical concept for some. Yet the alternative, continuing along our current path of masking, distancing and an ever-present fear of close human contact, represents a more profound infringement on our freedoms than a vaccine requirement.”

However, many Californians continue to fiercely oppose vaccine mandates. For example, nearly a quarter of the Los Angeles Police Department’s workforce is seeking exemptions from a city mandate — and a whopping 40% of city employees have so far declined to share their vaccination status altogether, according to the Los Angeles Times. And although Riverside County hasn’t adopted a local mandate, the sheriff has already said he won’t enforce one.

2. CA the state with highest poverty rate

Middlefield Road in Redwood City cuts through one of the most extreme income gaps in the Bay Area. Photo by Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group

If California is outperforming other states when it comes to COVID, it isn’t doing as well when it comes to poverty levels. When the cost of living is taken into account, California has a higher percentage of residents living in poverty than any other state in the nation at 15.4%, according to a Tuesday report from the U.S. Census Bureau that averaged the rates from 2018 to 2020. Only the District of Columbia had a higher rate, at 16.5%. However, the latest numbers show improvement for California: In 2019, the three-year average of its adjusted poverty rate was 17.2%, and in 2018 it was 18.1%.

The report also found that nationally, pandemic stimulus checks moved 11.7 million people out of poverty and expanded unemployment benefits kept 5.5 million people from entering poverty — though those benefits recently expired for more than 2 million Californians. And even as Newsom and lawmakers take steps to widen the state’s safety net — including by sending stimulus checks to two-thirds of Californians — the cost of gas, food and shelter continues to rise, according to a Tuesday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the Bay Area, for example, consumer prices rose 3.7% in August compared with the same month a year before.

3. Earth, wind and fire

The KNP Complex fires in Sequoia National Park could pose a threat to sequoias. Photo courtesy National Park Service

And now, here’s a look at some key environmental updates:

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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Do changes to California’s recall process represent necessary reforms — or a power grab?

Tolerance absent from California’s housing debate: The state is launching a propaganda war on single-family neighborhoods, although for many people they still represent the American Dream, argues John Mirisch of the Beverly Hills City Council.

Time for California to embrace offshore wind: Newsom should sign a bill that would help the state reduce climate pollution while also meeting the energy goals necessary to stave off future disasters, write Mandi McKay of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Eddie Ahn of Brightline Defense.

Other things worth your time

‘Am I on drugs?’ These 7 California recall moments had people wondering. // Politico

Los Angeles City Council tightens law around protests outside private homes. // Los Angeles Times

Protesters disrupt celebration of city’s new civil rights office. // Los Angeles Times

Chesa Boudin and rising crime in San Francisco. // The Atlantic

National City woman sues San Diego County after blinding herself in jail custody. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Data shows eviction notices are rising in San Francisco, particularly for being a ‘nuisance.’ // San Francisco Chronicle

ACLU sues Bay Area school district over ‘separate, unequal and illegal’ special education program. // EdSource

Sac State denies campus access to 4,306 students for failing to certify COVID-19 vaccination status. // The State Hornet

How the Dixie Fire became California’s second-largest wildfire ever. // Washington Post

Why California keeps burning over and over and over. // Washington Post

Inside the Los Angeles ‘granny flat’ built for climate change. // Los Angeles Times

California’s Chinook salmon population is disappearing. // Washington Post

BART has collected over $400,000 from renting empty parking spaces to Tesla. // Mercury News

California is close to permanently legalizing takeout cocktails and parklet drinking. // San Francisco Chronicle

See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...