Last minute emergency email from embattled governor brings out Democrats in droves

California Gov. Gavin Newsom fought off a Republican-led campaign to recall him from office, amid some popular anger over rising house prices, growing homelessness, an increase in urban crime, and an anti-Covid mask mandate.  Incomplete returns showed Newsom headed toward a landslide win with about 65% of the vote.

Newsom’s campaign credited an Aug. 5 email that followed some perilous polling data and warned the shock Democrats they needed to take the recall campaign seriously. The race is “close enough to start thinking about what it’d be like if we had a Republican governor in California. Sorry to put the thought in your head, but it’s true,” Newsom’s campaign wrote.

The alarmist message was quickly incorporated into Newsom’s remarks on the campaign trail – he was in serious trouble, he warned. The sequence of events combined to create a turning point in the race and helped energize California’s dominant Democratic voters, who until then appeared to be greeting the contest with a collective shrug. A major lesson of Newsom’s decisive win is “you can wake up the base,” Newsom strategist Sean Clegg said this week. “The base may start out asleep … but you can wake up the base.”

Newsom’s victory also provides him with a dramatic comeback story that he is likely to employ as he seeks to broaden his popularity in advance of a 2022 re-election race, while seeking to return his name into discussion about future presidential candidates.

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