Top aide sparks backlash by preemptively declaring Newsom winner of recall election

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom faced a recall election this week, though his party’s dominance in the state meant that any effort to unseat him would face long odds.

Although Democratic officials and many in the mainstream media downplayed Republican concerns about possible election fraud, one comment from a top Newsom aide only fueled such skepticism.

“Not enough”

According to Fox News, campaign strategist Sean Clegg said on Monday that the governor already had the following day’s election in the bag.

“I don’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,” he said.

Citing polls and projections, Clegg insisted that Newsom’s campaign was “performing so well we might reach a point where there’s not enough Republican vote[s] left on the table for them to overtake us.”

Although he acknowledged that the governor had not yet reached that threshold, his remarks struck some Newsom critics as a tacit admission that the results were already determined and Tuesday’s vote was a mere formality.

For his part, former President Donald Trump weighed in to share his concerns about a potentially “rigged” election.

“Intimidation while voting”

Larry Elder, who emerged as Newsom’s top GOP rival in the recall election, had similar misgivings, predicting ahead of Election Day that he expected there to be some “shenanigans” on display at the polls. His campaign website asserted that voter fraud played a role in the election results even before votes had been tallied, later backing off from that language in favor of urging Californians to report any instances of “irregularities, interference, or intimidation while voting.”

Harmeet Dhillon of the state’s Republican National Committee echoed those sentiments, specifically raising questions about millions of absentee ballots used in the recall election. She vowed to investigate the results and go to court if everything does not add up in the end.

As of Monday, more than 8.5 million of the 22.3 million mail-in ballots distributed had been returned.

With roughly 70% of the expected vote counted on Wednesday, officials determined that Newsom survived the recall attempt by a margin of about 64% to 36%, according to NBC News.

As for whether that result is evidence of the overwhelming Democratic majority in California or aforementioned “shenanigans” will be a question for Dhillon and others to answer.

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