LOS ANGELES (AP) — An ominous four-word message issued by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign on the morning of Aug. 5 served as the shock Democrats needed to take seriously a recall election that could remove him from office: “This recall is close.”
Newsom’s warning in a fundraising email came just days after a poll indicated the once-popular Democratic governor who was elected in a 2018 landslide was facing the unthinkable prospect of losing his job in a state that hadn’t elected a Republican in a statewide race in 15 years.
The race is “close enough to start thinking about what it’d be like if we had a Republican governor in California. Sorry to put the thought in your head, but it’s true,” Newsom’s campaign wrote.
The alarmist message was quickly incorporated into Newsom’s remarks on the campaign trail – he was in serious trouble, he warned.
The sequence of events combined to create a turning point in the race and helped energize California’s dominant Democratic voters, who until then appeared to be greeting the contest with a collective shrug.
Newsom on Tuesday easily turned back the attempt to retire him less than three years into his first term. Incomplete returns showed him headed toward a landslide win with about 65% of the vote.