By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom will get a second term as governor after winning re-election, according to a race call by the Associated Press shortly after polls closed Tuesday.
With roughly 33.7% of votes counted, Gov. Newsom led with 61.3% of the vote as of 9 p.m., according to preliminary results from the Secretary of State.
Gov. Newsom was heavily favored in recent polls to win re-election over his challenger, Republican State Sen. Brian Dahle. Throughout his campaign, the Republican state senator from Bieber faced a unique challenge – a lack of recognition. In the latest poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies a week before the election, 42% of likely voters said they had no opinion of Sen. Dahle.
The win comes after Gov. Newsom defeated defeated a Republican-led election in September 2021, where nearly 62% of voters rejected the recall effort. Tuesday’s victory represented the governor’s third election win in four years.
The governor told reporters he was “deeply humbled by the election results” Tuesday night. Speaking from a Proposition 1 campaign party – a measure on the ballot to enshrine abortion protections in the state’s constitution – Gov. Newsom praised the efforts of Democratic leaders who led the charge to get the initiative before voters.
“We affirmed, clearly with conviction, that we are a true freedom state – that we embrace the rights of women and girls,” Gov. Newsom said. “That is a point of contrast with the uncertainty that we’re experiencing as it relates to the national mood.”
“We have governors that won their reelections tonight in other states that are banning books, that are banning speech, that are banning abortion,” he later added. “And here we are in California moving in a completely different direction.”
In the months leading up to Election Day, Gov. Newsom hardly campaigned in California for his re-election. Instead, he turned his attention to other states, running TV ads and billboards in GOP-led states. The governor’s re-election campaign specifically ran billboards in seven Republican-led states to promote California’s abortion services website.
The governor’s focus on GOP politics in other states, like Texas and Florida, led observers to question whether the Democratic governor is planning a potential presidential run. Gov. Newsom has consistently denied that he is eyeing the Oval Office.
During a debate on KQED in October, Sen. Dahle accused Gov. Newsom of being “focused on running for president,” but Gov. Newsom told moderators that if re-elected, he is committed to finishing a four-year term.
Heading into the election, voters identified inflation and cost of living, homelessness and climate change as the top issues facing California right now, according to the USC Schwarzenegger Institute-USC Price California Issues Poll.
Gov. Newsom has made addressing the cost of living in the Golden State – particularly high gas prices – a priority in recent weeks. In early October, he directed the California Air Resources Board to order refineries to begin distributing the winter gas blend weeks early, resulting in a drop in gas prices.
The governor has also announced he wants to introduce a windfall tax on the excess profits of oil companies and plans to call a special session of the Legislature on Dec. 5.
Gov. Newsom has also identified addressing homelessness as a priority, announcing last week that he would hold off on delivering state funding to address homelessness until cities can develop more aggressive plans.
While Gov. Newsom was leading after polls closed with voting precincts partially reporting, the total vote count could take days to finalize.