Despite gathering almost two million signatures to recall Governor Newsom, the organizers of the petition were unsuccessful in ousting the governor from his office. Governor Newsom decisively beat the recall attempt, earning 61% of the vote from Californians. Chairwoman of the California Republican Party Jessica Patterson says the special election wasn't a complete failure in her eyes.
"I think there were some great successes out of the recall, even though the recall itself was not successful, watching our economy open back up, I don’t think that that would have happened had it not been the recall. Getting our kids back to in-person school, I don’t think that that would have happened without this recall," Patterson said. "In addition to that, what we were able to do as the Republican Party was really big, in infrastructure we went from 42,000 volunteers at the end of November 2020 to over 72,000 by the time the recall happened."
When asked if a lack of unity from the Republican party around one of the recall candidates could have cost them the election, Patterson said she wanted to focus on the unity the party had around recalling the governor.
"I think that the unity that you saw was all of us in agreement that Gavin Newsom was the worst governor in the state's history so as the Republican Party our first task was to make sure that we got question one: 'Do you wish to recall Gavin Newsom?' across the finish line," Patterson said. "If we didn’t do that, question number two wouldn’t have mattered."
Of the 46 candidates who were on the ballot to take the governor's job, conservative radio show host Larry Elder, who has repeatedly aligned himself with former President Trump, captured the most votes. Political analysts have also discussed whether Elder captured votes that could have gone to a more moderate Republican candidate like former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer.
When asked if the Republican party should look for more moderate or centrist candidates in future elections to be successful in an overwhelmingly blue state like California, Patterson said the party is focused on finding candidates who "speak to solutions".
"I think that the California Republican Party will be focused on making sure that we are working up and down the ticket. I think that candidates that speak to solutions whether it's in their districts or statewide are the ones that are going to be able to be successful," Patterson said. "We saw in 2020, California Democrats, mainstream media, wanted to focus on the national message or whatever that 3 a.m. tweet was, but Californians wanted to talk about the very real problems here and that’s why we picked up four Congressional seats. More new Republicans came out of the state of California than any other state in the nation when it came to the House of Representatives, resulting in one of the closest margins of our history within the House of Representatives."
Moving forward Patterson says the party is focused on defending those four seats in the midterm elections in 2022 and they're also focusing their efforts on Districts 3, 7, 10, 36, 45, and 49.
In California, Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1. Patterson says she's aware the odds are stacked against them but remains optimistic.
"Well certainly we are out-resourced, certainly we are out-registered for 10 years prior to me taking over as Chairman, the California Republican Party lost market share. In every single report from the Secretary of State, we lost market share and in fact in May of 2018, we had become the third-largest party in the state. My first report came out in October of 2019 and it was the first time in 10 years or 25 reports that we gained market share. In this last cycle, we have registered over 624,000 new Republicans, there's been a 12.5% increase in Republican registration since I was elected in February of 2019, we didn’t get here overnight, we didn’t think we would fix it overnight," she said.
To watch the full interview with Chair Patterson, tune in to Politically Speaking Sunday, October 17 at 9 a.m. on NBC 7 San Diego.