Top Democrats tout California recall with an eye toward 2022

Top Democrats tout California recall with an eye toward 2022
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Top Democrats are touting California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes Biden says he would tap National Guard to help with supply chain issues Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Nations plan to pump oil despite net zero promises MORE’s victory in Tuesday’s recall election as a harbinger of what’s to come in the 2022 midterms when the party will have to defend its narrow House and Senate majorities.

In a Wednesday morning call with reporters, Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime HarrisonJaime HarrisonDemocrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention DNC unveils new ads targeting minority voters in Virginia's governors race Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said Newsom’s win underscored their party’s greatest hope heading in next year’s midterm elections: that voters will deliver a sweeping rejection of the GOP under the continued influence of former President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE.

“What you saw was the reality of what’s going to happen in 2022,” Harrison said. “This was a contrast. It was a contrast between chaos and division with Larry Elder ... and somebody who was delivering for the people that he represents in Gov. Newsom.”

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“The contrast is going to be clear,” he added. “And as we move into 2022, that is what we’re going to focus on: the contrast.”

California voters on Tuesday soundly rejected a Republican-led effort to recall Newsom in a vote that amounted to a referendum on the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. With nearly 70 percent of the vote tallied, just 36 percent voted in favor of the recall, while a staggering 64 percent opposed it.

Conservative radio host Larry Elder led a field of 46 challengers hoping to replace Newsom if he had been booted from the governor’s mansion.

The recall results weren’t unexpected. Recent polling in the lead-up to Tuesday’s election showed most voters rejecting the recall effort. 

What’s more, California is among the bluest of blue states. Registered Democratic voters outnumber registered GOP voters there by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, and it’s been 15 years since Californians elected a Republican to statewide office. That makes it difficult to determine just how indicative the recall is of national political trends ahead of 2022.

But Maloney said that the recall election offers a case study in how Democrats plan to contrast themselves with Trump-aligned Republicans next year. 

In particular, he pointed to the election results in Orange County, a politically competitive part of California where voters opposed the recall by a 5-point margin. He said that voters there and across the Golden State had soundly rejected Elder and, by extension, Trump’s brand of politics.

“You couldn’t have had a better mouthpiece for the Trump brand than Larry Elder in that election,” Maloney told reporters. “And he got his ass kicked.” 

“That should send a chill down the spine of [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyCheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress GOP memo urges lawmakers to blame White House 'grinches' for Christmas delays MORE (R-Calif.),” he continued, later adding: “The Republican message is failing badly in swing districts.”

Democrats face an uphill battle next year in their quest to keep control of the House. Republicans need to flip only about half a dozen seats in the lower chamber to capture a majority, and it’s possible that they may be able to win enough seats through redistricting alone to hit that margin.

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The president’s party typically loses ground in midterm elections, meaning history isn’t necessarily on Democrats’ side in 2022. 

Still, Democrats are hoping to buck historical trends next year by contrasting themselves with Trump and the party that he still effectively commands.

“We’re not perfect,” Maloney said. “But we are responsible adults and we’re trying to fix tough problems and we’re in it for the right reasons.”