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Sonoma County backs Gov. Newsom, overwhelmingly opposing recall

Press Democrat reporters recap the recall election in a Facebook Live video at bit.ly/2VKTyUD.

Early returns from Tuesday’s historic recall election showed Sonoma County voters overwhelmingly supported keeping Gov. Gavin Newsom in office, though the margins were expected to tighten.

With a little less than half the ballots counted by 9 p.m., nearly 80% of voters opposed recalling the governor, while a little more than 20% favored removing him from office.

Of those who marked the second question on the ballot in favor of a replacement candidate, 32% of Sonoma County voters chose talk-radio host Larry Elder, who garnered the most votes of any of the 46 contenders statewide.

Most of the ballots arrived by mail in the days and weeks leading up to Election Day.

The margins may narrow in coming days. Political analysts predicted more recall proponents would turn out to vote in-person on Tuesday.

But in dark blue Sonoma County the results were not likely to change dramatically. The vote appeared to somewhat reflect the results of the 2020 election, where 74% of voters selected President Joe Biden and 23% backed Republican Donald Trump.

Voters at polling stations around the county on Tuesday voiced a range of reasons driving their votes for or against Newsom.

In Sebastopol, 64-year-old Oliver Marks said he was a registered Democrat but still voted to oust the governor. He was seeking a shake-up, he said, and to get the party “back on track to being a party by and for the people.”

Marks voted for California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, saying he had the most governing experience of anyone in the race.

When it came to voting Newsom out, Marks was driven in large part by a specific local issue, he said. Sonoma County’s recent purchase of the Sebastopol Inn in the heart of downtown for use housing homeless residents had robbed the city of lodging taxes and represented an overreach by the government into local affairs, he said. Marks ultimately blamed Newsom, who visited the inn in July to tout his $12 billion spending program to combat homelessness, for the decision.

The hotel purchase would not ultimately address root causes of homelessness, Marks said. “We’re spending a huge amount of taxpayer money on what I consider a Potemkin village of sorts,” he said.

Brad Snell, 47, said the effort to recall Newsom was a “witch hunt,” and a waste of taxpayer dollars. “His term is going to be up soon anyways,” Snell said.

Michelle Kralovec flagged down a Press Democrat reporter outside a Petaluma polling station to express her strong disapproval of Newsom, said she voted to recall both him and the district attorney.

“He’s really kind of ruined California,” she said of Newsom. Kralovec voted for Elder to replace him, she said.

Jean Irvine, a 75-year-old Rohnert Park resident, was frustrated she was voting today at all. “I came to vote in a furor because I have to vote again for a governor I already voted for,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

Press Democrat reporters recap the recall election in a Facebook Live video at bit.ly/2VKTyUD.

Andrew Graham

City of Santa Rosa, The Press Democrat 

As Sonoma County's largest city, Santa Rosa, its policy and politics, crime and its economy affect the lives of North Bay residents both inside city limits and beyond in ways both obvious and unseen. I aim to document those impacts and give voice to city residents.

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