First published in the Oct. 8 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
South Pasadena voters largely joined the state in rejecting the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom in last month’s special election, and likewise preferred Republican talk show host Larry Elder as the replacement were the recall successful.
There were 2,049 voters who favored Newsom’s recall, while 8,258 rejected it, giving South Pasadena a 4-to-1 ratio of residents who actively wanted to keep the Democrat in office for the remainder of his term. The turnout was fairly high for a special election, with 57.88% of the 17,843 registered South Pasadena voters submitting ballots.
With 80% of those who cast a ballot choosing to keep Newsom, South Pasadena voted no on the recall at a greater margin than Los Angeles County by nearly 10 percentage points.
Among all replacement candidates, Elder — a political newcomer whose ascent as a potential leader for the California Republican Party is tied, by proponents and opponents alike, to former President Donald Trump — led the way in South Pasadena, with 1,440 ballots marking him as the preferred successor in the event of recall. It is difficult to draw a percentage out of this tally, as voters were invited to pick a candidate whether they voted for or against the recall; however, Democratic Party officials here generally campaigned against selecting a candidate at all, and no prominent Democrats seriously challenged Newsom for the top job.
Behind Elder, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer won the second most South Pasadena votes, with 758. Generally considered a conventional, moderate Republican, Faulconer also finished second statewide behind Elder among the GOP candidates and may have been bolstered by pro-Newsom voters motivated to select the most palatable opposition candidate.
Among the handful of candidates who ran as Democrats, YouTube celebrity Kevin Paffrath received the most votes from South Pasadena residents, with 616. Although Paffrath won the most statewide votes among Democratic candidates by a wide margin, candidate Brandon Ross, a lawyer and medical doctor, ended up breathing down his neck a bit in South Pasadena with 418 votes. (Ross also received substantially more support in L.A. County than statewide.)
South Pasadena’s votes by City Council district were all roughly the same in terms of the yes-no ratio: 476-1,594 in District 1; 361-1,726 in District 2; 395-1,614 in District 3; 336-1,535 in District 4; and 481-1,789 in District 5. Elder received the most votes among individual replacement candidates in all five districts, though it should be noted he didn’t receive a majority of such votes in any district. (Altogether, there were 46 candidates, among whom Elder garnered 48.4% of the votes cast by Californians who selected a candidate.)