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Today’s Headlines: Newsom’s resounding victory in the recall election

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Newsom soundly defeats California recall election

California Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a historic recall election Tuesday, winning a vote of confidence during a pandemic that tested his ability to lead the state through the largest worldwide health crisis in modern times.

The recall offered Republicans their best chance in more than a decade to take the helm of the largest state in the union. But the effort was undercut when Newsom and the nation’s leading Democrats, aided by visits to California by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, portrayed the campaign to oust the governor as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right anti-vaccine activists.

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Dave Gilliard, one of the Republican strategists leading the effort to oust the governor, said Newsom was in serious trouble until August. That changed once Republican Larry Elder emerged as the leading contender to replace Newsom as governor.

Gilliard listed multiple reasons why Elder inspired Democrats to vote but said most consequential was Elder’s vow to repeal the Newsom administration’s mandates requiring students to wear masks in public schools and teachers, state employees and healthcare workers to be vaccinated. This at a time when the Delta variant was raging and most Californians supported Newsom’s actions to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

More about the recall

A recall campaign that at one point appeared poised to upend Democratic politics in sapphire-blue California ended Tuesday with the status quo preserved, as Gov. Gavin Newson handily beat back an effort to oust him from office. Here are five takeaways.

— Although the effort to recall Newsom failed, the lightning two-month campaign appears to have had at least one clear beneficiary: Elder. What will be his next move?

— As voters cast their ballots, some may have sensed that the reason for the recall effort had less to do with the governor’s performance than with a broader dissatisfaction. The recall was testing not just Newsom but the California dream.

— Abcarian: With the recall’s failure, California has dealt another blow to the forces of Trumpism, embodied by Elder, the conservative talk show host and Trump clone, who emerged as the Republican front-runner among the dozens of candidates vying to replace the governor. Let the “audits” and the “fraud” investigations begin!

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Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

California coronavirus cases dropping, CDC says

California’s coronavirus transmission rates are dropping, a hopeful sign amid a summer surge fueled by the Delta variant, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s coronavirus transmission level has fallen from “high” to “substantial,” the second-highest tier as defined by the CDC. As of Tuesday night, California was the only state in this category (along with Puerto Rico). State epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan credited relatively high vaccination rates, as well as indoor masking practices, in helping drive down new coronavirus infections.

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The nation as a whole is also seeing new coronavirus cases begin to fall. About 118,000 new coronavirus cases a day were reported across the U.S. over the seven-day period that ended Sunday; the previous week’s average was about 152,000 cases a day.

More top coronavirus headlines

— As President Biden escalates his administration’s efforts to require Americans to get vaccinated, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco says he will not enforce vaccine mandates for Sheriff’s Department employees.

— The share of Americans living in poverty rose slightly as the pandemic shook the economy last year, but massive relief payments from Congress eased hardship for many, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

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— Russian President Vladimir Putin has opted to quarantine himself after people in his inner circle became infected with the coronavirus.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

Fire threatening Sequoia National Park grows fivefold, forcing residents to flee

A pair of lightning-sparked fires raging in Sequoia National Park more than quintupled in 24 hours, burning closer to groves of the largest trees on Earth and forcing the evacuation of park employees and nearby residents.

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Flames were lapping about a mile from the famed Giant Forest, the largest concentration of towering giant sequoias in the park and home to the 275-foot General Sherman — considered the world’s largest tree by volume.

The fires were nearer to the trees but not yet an “imminent threat.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

From the Oct. 8, 2003, Los Angeles Times: “Arnold Schwarzenegger won the historic California recall election Tuesday as a tide of voter anger toppled Gray Davis just 11 months after the Democrat had been reelected governor.

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“In a popular revolt unmatched in the 92 years that Californians have held the power to recall elected officials, voters chose a Republican film star with no government experience to replace an incumbent steeped for three decades in state politics.”

Two men in suits stand behind a desk
Oct. 23, 2003: Gray Davis shows governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger the governor’s office at the Capitol in Sacramento.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

CALIFORNIA

— All but five of California’s national forests — closed under an emergency order issued in late August — will reopen two days early, officials said Tuesday. The closure order will now end at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

— Los Angeles police badly miscalculated the amount of fireworks they placed into a containment vessel before detonating them and causing a massive explosion that destroyed part of a South L.A. neighborhood in June, according to a new report from federal investigators.

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— The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to crack down on protests outside people’s homes, passing a law that allows those targeted by illegal demonstrations to seek fines from protesters.

— Lawyers for Robert Durst, a real estate heir charged with silencing his best friend with a bullet to the back of her head, and prosecutors made their closing arguments this week as the trial winds down.

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NATION-WORLD

— For the second day, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday confronted a barrage of questions from lawmakers about last month’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. He repeatedly defended the evacuation operation.

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— Boston is on the cusp of narrowing its field of mayoral hopefuls for the first time to two people of color, and possibly to two women of color — a stark change from the unbroken string of white men elected in the city’s first 200 years.

— Few nations have been ravaged by the pandemic like India. Now millions of school-age rural children are in danger of becoming a lost generation — locked out of the classroom for so long that they tumble into lives of deprivation and struggle that previously doomed their parents.

— China is purging celebrities and tech billionaires. But the problem is bigger than “sissy men,” as leader Xi Jinping fixates on ridding society of greed, corruption and moral failings he views as threats to socialism.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— How former “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards acquitted himself as TV’s dead man walking.

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— Norm Macdonald, the actor and comic best known as a writer, performer and three-season “Weekend Update” anchor on “Saturday Night Live,” has died of cancer. He was 61.

— Colson Whitehead’s “Harlem Shuffle” is a spectacularly pleasurable read. While it is, of course, literary, it’s also a pure, unapologetic crime-fiction page-turner.

— Despite sitting for hours of interviews for a new HBO documentary about her life, Alanis Morissette says she is so unhappy with the final product that she will not support the film.

BUSINESS

— If you’re a coffee drinker, you really need to care about climate change, writes business columnist David Lazarus. It’s not just an environmental issue; it’s a consumer issue.

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— Apple unveiled a new iPhone 13 on Tuesday, looking to entice consumers with improvements to the camera and processor in lieu of major design changes.

SPORTS

— The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks, becoming the second team to clinch a postseason berth in 2021 and officially extending their streak of playoff appearances to nine seasons.

— USC set multiple performance benchmarks for Clay Helton. He didn’t make it past the first one.

— Cooper Kupp and Rams receivers show that Sean McVay fixed flaw in his game-planning.

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OPINION

— The GOP is now a zombie of the party that triumphed in the 2003 recall, says contributing writer Kurt Bardella.

— After months of worrying about the fate of California, we will sleep easier now that the governor will not be removed from office and replaced by right-wing provocateur Larry Elder, the editorial board writes.

ONLY IN L.A.

Some might say the best ads for the recall election were on TV or the radio. But for young voters, the most shareable, informative and ubiquitous ads can be found online. It’s a continuation of the left-leaning style of activist art that exploded on Instagram last summer, with retro fonts and vibrant colors that summon the history of protest art and cater to the aesthetic demands of Instagram. L.A. artist Sarah Epperson breaks down what makes good political art in 2021.

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Today’s newsletter was curated by Seth Liss and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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