Governor of California, Gavin Newsom appears to have survived a moment of possible eviction from office as US media on Tuesday reported him winning a clear majority to remain in office.
The Democrat Governor, currently serving his third year, came under a threat of recall born in partisan anger over his pandemic response.
But as US media projected, Newsom ended with a vote of confidence in his strategy to combat it.
The BBC’s US partner CBS projected that the governor will prevail, with about two-thirds of voters backing him and more than 60% of the vote tallied.
“I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote,” Mr Newsom said in a victory speech in Sacramento.
“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom, who will now finish out his term further said Tuesday night.
“We said yes to science, yes to vaccines, yes to ending this pandemic.”
Newsom was bolstered by a robust turnout among Democrats, who outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1 in the Golden State but had initially appeared disinterested in the race.
The recall efforts, filed last year by conservatives in refute to Newsom’s policy stances, gained momentum about month ago when Republicans joined. The efforts took off at a very disturbing time when lives of Californians were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, raging wildfires and a historic drought.
Prior to the vote, the governor’s main rival, conservative radio host Larry Elder, who is opposed to face masks and vaccination, claimed that the vote was rigged before polls even opened.
Nearly 1.5 million signatures were gathered by petition (equal to 12% of the 2018 vote), meeting the bar for an election to test to decide whether Californians wanted to keep Mr Newsom in office, or replace him.
With the help of top national Democrats, including President Joe Biden who campaigned for him in Long Beach on the eve of the election, Newsom argued that the recall amounted to a “life or death” choice for voters and promised that his top priority was to keep them safe.
Elder conceded Tuesday night, telling supporters, “Let’s be gracious in defeat. We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.”
With the largest state population in the US, California has some 22 million registered voters and the fifth largest global economy.
The Golden State has been firmly Democratic in national elections, but does have large Republican regions.
The state has a track record of removing governors through the recall process since the 1960s, though many do not qualify for a vote.