Newsom survives recall with Nevada County support

Nevada County voters turned out largely in favor of retaining Gavin Newsom as governor.
Photo: Elias Funez

Gov. Gavin Newsom kept his job after Tuesday’s vote, with support from the majority of Nevada County voters.

Per the unofficial results from the Nevada County Elections Office, 54% of the county’s registered voters — 40,796 of 75,586 — participated in the 2021 gubernatorial recall election.

Votes are still coming in, and the numbers will likely change.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Nevada County Elections Office stated that 58% — 23,519 — of the election’s participants voted “no” against Newsom’s recall.

Ninety-two percent of the election’s participants selected their choice for the future of California via mail-in-ballots.

The majority of the votes — 73% — cast in-person early or on election day supported the recall, but ballots filled out onsite only made up 8% of the total votes Nevada County cast throughout the election.

Even if all 3,127 of the total votes cast in-person were against Newsom’s continued leadership, the collective opponents would have been unable to overcome the 8,000-vote margin required to surmount the current governor’s lead established through Nevada County’s mail-in ballots.

Of the 42%, or 17,277 voters, who marked “yes” to the recall question, 11,220 sought to replace the Democrat with Larry Elder; 2,243 chose Kevin Falcouner; and 2,213 selected California’s 6th District Assemblyman Kevin Kiley.

In-person voter Jacquelyn Mattoon described Elder, who received 42% of the votes cast for Newsom’s replacement, as a Christian radio host. Although Mattoon convenes with a weekly prayer group made up of politically like-minded individuals, the Rough and Ready resident opted for Kiley because of his “constitutional” reputation.

Kiley and Falcouner each received approximately 9% of the votes cast to replace Newsom. Falcouner, who concluded his term as San Diego mayor in 2020, escaped a tie for the conservative voters’ would-be second place with 30 votes more than Kiley.


Although the special election’s results remain pending, data collected by the Secretary of State’s Office Wednesday morning indicates Newsom will continue his term with a 2.5 million vote margin.

According to data collected by the Secretary of State’s Office just prior to the 2020 presidential election, California has 22 million registered voters of nearly 25 million eligible. According to its website, this special election marks the highest voter registration — 89% — California has seen since before 2003.

As of Aug. 30, 47% of the registered California voters were Democrats, 24% were Republican and 23% were registered with no party preference.

The Secretary of State’s website notes the possibility of discrepancies between county and state-generated data because the agency based its eligibility estimates from the 2010 census. More accurate numbers would be available had the COVID-19 pandemic not delayed the collection and release of the official 2020 census data.

The Secretary of State’s Office reported over 98% of eligible voters in Nevada County are registered to vote. Forty percent, or 30,067 people within county lines, are registered Democrats; 32%, or 24,411, are registered Republicans; and 14% indicate no party preference.


Chair of the Nevada County Democrats, Eric Robins, described the mood in his organization as “grateful” and “proud.”

“We were pretty confident, but we were still pretty thankful with the results,” Robins said.

Robins said more Nevada County residents voted in favor of Newsom continuing his original term in this special election than those on the winning side of the governor’s election almost four years ago.

“It was stronger — percentage-wise — than Newsom got here in 2018,” Robins explained. “(He) only won Nevada County by 5 points, and it looks like ‘no’ votes got a 15-point margin this time.”

Robins said this marks the fifth election in a row in which Nevada County voted majority Democratic, and he is looking forward to continued engagement in the region’s political progression.

“We’re looking forward to 2022,” Robins said. “We have statewide races again and local stuff, with Board of Supervisors, and defending the Nevada City Council in June.”

Robins said he, personally, has not figured out how to interrupt the increased flow of misinformation that intensifies political polarization, but trusts local election officials’ oaths of service and commitment to transparency.

“We’re entirely confident in the reliability of our mail voting system,” Robins said, adding, “practically speaking, it’s the same — you’re handing a ballot to a registrar’s office (or you’re mailing it in). You either trust them or you don’t.”

When Robins said “we trust the registrar,” he is referring to Democrats as a whole.

“Left-wing voters vote heavily by mail than conservative voters,” Robins said. “Here in Nevada County there are more left-wing voters.”

According to the county election website, absentee ballots postmarked on or before the day of the election will be included in the election’s final report.

In the meantime, organized members of the Nevada County Democrats are taking a breath of fresh air.

“We are taking a break for the next few weeks,” Robins said, attributing the lack of scheduled events in the coming weeks to continued risk posed by COVID-19 and smoke.


According to the Truckee Fire Protection District’s website, Measure T will tax land owners — $179 per parcel, per year, or 49 cents per day — to provide a dedicated fund for wildfire prevention and mitigation.

Eastern county residents reached the two-thirds majority vote required to pass the tax, with 73% of the 5,745 votes cast in favor of additional financial support for the district.

The measure’s fact sheet states allocated funds will assist efforts to relocate dry brush, dead trees, fuels and fire hazards; improve emergency evacuation systems, routes and procedures; and support defensible space and critical infrastructure.

According to a resolution by the Truckee Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors, the tax will generate $3.7 million annually in locally directed funding for wildfire protection, with independent audits, exemptions for low income residents, and local oversight. The tax will automatically expire in eight years.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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