Experts believe the outcome of the recall vote, which ends on Tuesday, will have an impact on next year’s US midterm elections.
After a campaign that exposed splits in the most populous US state, Californians are debating whether to keep Governor Gavin Newsom in office or move in a more conservative direction.
Despite the fact that Newsom was leading in the polls, he continued to campaign actively and bring in national Democratic luminaries to persuade voters to reject the recall vote, which is set to end on Tuesday.
Late Monday, he received a final push from US President Joe Biden, who warned that the competition might affect the country’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, reproductive rights, and the fight to limit climate change.
The results are also expected to have an impact on the US midterm elections in 2022, when control of Congress will be up for grabs once more. The party in power in the White House has a history of losing seats in midterm elections.
Biden, who narrowly defeated Republican President Donald Trump less than a year ago, said the themes that dominated the 2020 campaign have resurfaced in California, with potentially terrible consequences if Newsom is removed in the recall vote.
Biden referred to the leading Republican contender, conservative talk show personality Larry Elder, as a “clone” of Trump while speaking to hundreds of applauding fans during a dusk event in the seaside city of Long Beach, south of Los Angeles.
“Can you imagine him being governor of this state?” Biden asked, as the crowd responded with shouts of “No, no!”
“You can’t let that happen. There is too much at stake,” the president said. “The eyes of the nation are on California,” Biden added, saying the recall vote is “going to reverberate around the nation and … around the world”.
On Tuesday’s ballot in California, there are only two questions: Should Newsom be re-elected? And, if not, who should take his place? There are 46 individuals to pick from as replacements. The findings of the second question are meaningless if voters keep Newsom.
According to a poll released on Friday by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, 60.1 percent of likely voters support keeping the governor in office, while 38.5 percent reject it.
In a four-week early voting period, Democrats have returned twice as many votes as Republicans, according to state data. Nearly 8.6 million of California’s 22 million registered voters have already voted by mail.
Voting by mail began about a month ago, with in-person voting beginning on Tuesday and polls closing at 8 p.m. local time (03:00 GMT).
James Lance Taylor, a University of San Francisco professor, told Al Jazeera the issues that critics have blamed Newsom for, from immigration to wildfires to gun violence, are not unique to California.
“There is not a single issue that is being attached to Gavin Newsom that is not happening in other states, and Gavin Newsom has actually outperformed everybody,” Taylor said.
The difference, he said, is that California’s constitution allows for a recall without cause. “This is without cause,” Taylor said.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, and businessman John Cox are among the prominent Republicans in the contest.
Kevin Paffrath, a financial consultant with a significant YouTube following, is the most well-known Democrat.
Source: AL JAZEERA