Governor Gavin Newsom makes an appearance after the polls close on the recall election, at the California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom successfully fended off an effort to oust him from office in Tuesday’s special election, overcoming a Republican campaign to unseat him over his liberal policies on immigration, COVID-19 and crime.

Newsom, a first-term governor beset by challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme drought and severe wildfires, boosted turnout among Democrats with a flurry of late campaigning and overcame the move by Republicans to recall him.

“I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote,” Newsom said in a victory speech Tuesday night in the state capital of Sacramento.

“An overwhelmingly no vote tonight here in the state of California. That was expressed tonight. I want to focus on what we said yes to as a state,” Newsom continued.

“We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression. We said yes to women’s fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body and her fate and future. We said yes to diversity. We said yes to inclusion. We said yes to pluralism. We said yes to all those things that he we hold dear as Californians and I would argue as Americans. Economic justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice. Our values, where California’s made so much progress. All of those things were on the ballot this evening,” said Newsom.

“Tonight, I am humbled, grateful, but resolved in the spirit of my political hero Robert Kennedy to make more gentle the life of this world,” Newsom added.

With the victory, Newsom avoided the fate of former California Gov. Gray Davis, who was removed from office by recall in 2003. He was replaced by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Reuters and City News Service contributed to this article.

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