“We need to stiffen our spines and lean into keeping people safe and healthy. That we shouldn’t be timid in trying to protect people’s lives and mitigate the spread and transmission of this disease. That it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also a motivating factor in this election,” Mr Newsom told CBS News when asked for his takeaways on his win.
Throughout the pandemic, California businesses and restaurants have defied Covid-19 mitigation measures. Restaurants in Orange County stayed open despite stay-at-home orders and other restaurants in Riverside County were charged with illegally operating.
And last month, hundreds of California residents protested against vaccine mandates in Santa Monica, on the west side of Los Angeles.
While the recall petition was introduced before Covid-19 swept California, howMr Newsom handled the pandemic may have pushed the required 1.495 million residents to sign the recall petition.
“Look, I was recalled to no small degree because of our approach to this pandemic. It’s not just about the formal authority of setting the tone and tenor on vaccines and masks, but it’s the moral authority that we have,” Mr Newsom said.
The governor beat out a field of more than 80 candidates in the recall – only the second in state history to make it onto the ballot – including the provocative conservative radio host Larry Elder, who became the leading challenger late in the race.
Following his victory, Mr Newsom hit out at Donald Trump over the suggestion the ballot was rigged, saying: “Democracy is not a football. You don’t just throw it around. It’s more like, I don’t know, an antique vase. You can drop it and smash it in a million pieces. And that’s what we’re capable of doing if we don’t stand up and meet the moment.”
Moving forward, Mr Newsom described how vaccine and mask mandates could help curb the spread of Covid-19. The plan echoes President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate announcement last week, which will impact 100 million Americans.
So far, more than 57 per cent of California’s population is fully vaccinated. Experts and government officials are keen to get people vaccinated because it prevents severe disease and death from Covid-19.