Where Does California GOP Go After Recall Defeat?

The statewide results from the Special Election show a decisive win for Governor Newsom, so what does that mean for the California Republican Party moving forward?

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More than 60% of Californians voted against recalling Governor Newsom from office in the Special Election. For those voters who decided to answer question two about the replacement candidate, the most votes went to conservative radio talk show host, Larry Elder. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer landed in third getting around 436,000 votes across the state, many of those votes came from San Diego County.

NBC 7 asked Faulconer what his plans were for the future after the results were released Tuesday night.

"I'm going to take the time to talk to my family and my supporters there's a lot of unfinished business, I believe, in this state," Faulconer said.

In the past, Faulconer has said that he would run for governor in 2022 no matter what. Republican strategists say he should have been the lead replacement candidate but damaged himself when he moved away from his moderate positions in an attempt to align himself with former President Trump.

"I think Kevin Faulconer did incredible political damage to himself, a completely self-inflicted wound, by flip-flopping on the Trump question. It's beyond me why anybody would think that going towards a pro-Trump position in California makes any sense," said Mike Madrid, a California Republican strategist.

NBC 7's Omari Fleming spoke with Faulconer about recall election results, and his plan for 2023.

But where does that leave the Republican Party in California given that their top candidate was firmly aligned with Trump? If the decision is to move back to the middle, Paula Whitsell, Chairwoman of the San Diego Republican Party, says don't count Faulconer out just yet.

"With the recall, it’s a whole different ballgame in terms of strategies and that sort of thing, so a candidate like Kevin Faulconer, I think, probably in a normal statewide governor's race would be much more attractive because he's a more moderate candidate," she said.

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