California governor Gavin Newsom celebrated a decisive victory in a recall election late Tuesday night after a campaign that at one point looked like it may topple the first-term Democrat, thanks to his self-inflicted wounds during the pandemic.

The election was called by the Associated Press less than an hour after voting ended, showing Newsom so far with the support of more than 60 percent of voters who answered “no” on the question of whether he should be removed from office. (Late-arriving mail ballots will still be counted for a week so long as they were postmarked by Election Day.)

Newsom won due to heavy support in the state’s urban and coastal Democratic strongholds; the state’s strong Democratic advantage; a lavishly funded anti-recall effort; and a divided and not terribly compelling Republican field of would-be replacements. The results were in stark contrast to the previous gubernatorial recall election in 2003, when Democratic incumbent Gray Davis was sacked and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected to replace him. As expected, conservative talk-show host Larry Elder is comfortably winning the now-irrelevant replacement race with a strong plurality of the vote.

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