As the first votes in the recall election are counted, Gavin Newsom’s campaign takes an early lead.

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As the first votes in the recall election are counted, Gavin Newsom’s campaign takes an early lead.

As the first ballots in the state’s recall gubernatorial race were tabulated on Tuesday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom seized an early lead.

According to CNN, with 17 percent of the votes counted shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. local time, the choice to keep Newsom rather than recall him was winning by 1,420,076 votes to 800,827 votes, a margin of more than 20%. California voters were offered two options during the election: whether to recall Newsom and, if so, who should replace him. On the second question, Republican frontrunner Larry Elder had a commanding margin over runner-up Kevin Faulconer in a crowded field.

Exit polls indicated that controlling the COVID-19 epidemic was the top priority for voters in the state prior to the results being counted, which is likely a positive indicator for Newsom given Elder’s promise to repeal public health restrictions. According to ABC News, a 69 percent majority of voters supported the state mask mandate, while 63 percent saw vaccination as an obligation rather than a personal choice. Exit polls also revealed that a majority of respondents were concerned about Newsom’s removal from office.

Hours before the polls closed, Newsom campaign strategist Sean Clegg told reporters that he couldn’t “see a scenario where we’re not talking about a victory for the governor and a complete rejection of this appalling partisan power grab,” while Elder hinted during a radio interview a few hours earlier that he might be planning another challenge to Newsom in 2022, when the state’s next regular governor is elected.

This is a developing story, and more information will be added as it becomes available.

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