10 Things in Politics: Newsom survives California recall

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Here’s what we’re talking about:


With Phil Rosen.


Gov. Gavin Newsom talks to reporters
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

1. RECALL IT A NIGHT: Gov. Gavin Newsom beat back an effort to boot him from office in California. Many news organizations projected that Newsom defeated the recall effort less than an hour after polls closed because of a strong Democratic turnout combined with a large number of Democratic mail-in votes. The conservative radio host Larry Elder, the top Republican in the race, conceded shortly after 1 a.m. (For what it’s worth, former President Donald Trump is once again raising baseless allegations of fraud.)

Top takeaways from the results:

California is still California: Democrats have dominated statewide elections for years, including a 29-point romp by Joe Biden in November. Newsom’s approval rating was dinged, but he was never close to the anemic mid-20s that Gov. Gray Davis had before he was ousted by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. As FiveThirtyEight points out, California has grown only more liberal since then.

A California county map showing a majority opposed to recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Gov. Gavin Newsom was projected soon after polls closed to overcome the recall effort. Insider

Don’t discount how disastrous Elder was: Republicans had a more establishment-friendly alternative in Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego mayor. Instead, they elevated Elder, who as one would expect from a talk-radio host spent decades producing the kind of inflammatory statements that make opponents giddy.

It’s still the pandemic: Newsom’s own blunder of attending a private dinner maskless at an expensive restaurant provided the spark to a recall effort that had previously floundered. But exit polls indicate that Californians still support some strict pandemic policies. In particular, 70% of respondents supported requiring masks for students in schools and 63% considered getting vaccinated for COVID-19 to be more of a “public-health responsibility” than a “personal choice.”

Expect more calls to change the recall process: Newsom’s victory means the state will have spent $US276 ($AU377) million on a failed recall effort just over a year before voters are set to head to the polls for the actual gubernatorial election. Only 19 states, including California, allow recall elections. Rep. Karen Bass on Tuesday advocated making it harder to recall officials in the state.

Check out the full results here.


2. Book says America’s top general secretly went behind Trump’s back to warn China: Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was said to be so worried about Trump that he called his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, both before and after the 2020 election to assure him the US would not launch an attack, according to a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Milley, per excerpts obtained by The Washington Post, also moved to make sure top generals were aware any decision to order a nuclear strike would need to involve him. More from the book, including reporting that Milley agreed with Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Trump was “crazy.”

Donald trump mark milley
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Army Gen. Mark Milley looks on after getting a briefing from senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House on October 7, 2019. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Like past Woodward books, there are numerous jaw-dropping details. Here are some of the claims:


United States Penitentiary Leavenworth, Kansas.
United States Penitentiary Leavenworth, Kansas. Camila DeChalus

3. Warden of Leavenworth federal prison exits following Insider investigation: Donald Hudson left USP Leavenworth earlier this month, according to an email obtained by my colleague. The change comes days after Insider published an investigation on poor conditions prison workers at Leavenworth and other federal facilities said they had faced during the coronavirus pandemic. Several employees at Leavenworth said the investigation was widely circulated among those there. Read the original story for yourself.


4. South Korea conducts major missile test: “South Korea says it has carried out its first underwater-launched missile test, hours after rival North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea,” the Associated Press reports. North Korea’s test defies UN resolutions and comes as talks with the US over its nuclear program have stalled. More on the increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.


5. Department of Justice limits chokeholds, no-knock warrants: The DOJ announced a sweeping new policy for federal officers that nearly bans the use of chokeholds and limits the circumstances of so-called no-knock warrants. More on the new rules.


6. Boston is now guaranteed to be led by a woman of color: The city councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George appear to be the most likely contenders to face off, setting up a clash between two wings of the Democratic Party, The Boston Globe reports. The contest will also usher in a new era for a city The Globe says often “served as a bastion of white male political power” and is “still recovering from the wounds of its racial past.” More on what to expect this November.


7. Haitian prosecutor says prime minister is linked to president’s assassination: Bedford Claude, Port-au-Prince’s chief prosecutor, said that evidence showed that Prime Minister Ariel Henry called a suspect the same morning President Jovenel Moïse was killed inside his home by gunmen, the AP reports. Here’s where the investigation stands.


8. Poverty increased last year, but it could have been worse: Without the added boost of stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits, many unemployed Americans could have been in much worse situations, according to census data. The official poverty rate increased by about 1 percentage point, to 11.4%, in 2020. See the full report.


9. AOC defends Met Gala appearance: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York defended her decision to attend after causing a stir on social media for appearing at the glitzy fashion event. Critics were upset she appeared in a designer gown at an event that reportedly costs $US30,000 ($AU41,000) a head. Ocasio-Cortez said she was invited and her “Tax the rich” dress was borrowed.


Comedian Norm MacDonald performs on stage at the Saban Community Clinic's 50th Anniversary Dinner Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
Comedian Norm MacDonald performs on stage at the Saban Community Clinic’s 50th Anniversary Dinner Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. Greg Doherty/Getty Images

10. Remembering Norm Macdonald: The comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” star died Tuesday after reportedly dealing with cancer for years while keeping his diagnosis mostly private. He was 61. Macdonald was known for his acerbic style.

Check out his 9 best moments on “SNL,” including his iconic portrayal of Burt Reynolds aka Turd Ferguson.


Today’s trivia question: Who held the crown before Sen. Dianne Feinstein became California’s longest-serving US senator earlier this year? Hint: You can thank this figure for California’s recalls. Email your guess and a suggested question to me at [email protected].

  • Yesterday’s answer: John DeLorean’s private New Jersey estate became Trump’s Bedminster golf club. DeLorean, remembered for his namesake car immortalized in “Back to the Future,” was not the first owner of the land.