California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom ended his campaign to keep his job in a recall election with a final push from Joe Biden.
he president warned that the outcome of the contest could shape the country’s direction on the pandemic, reproductive rights and the battle to slow climate change.
The recall gained momentum largely out of frustration with Mr Newsom’s Covid-19 restrictions that closed schools and businesses and cost millions of jobs.
Speaking to hundreds of cheering supporters during a twilight rally in the coastal city of Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, Mr Biden referred to the leading Republican candidate Larry Elder as “the clone of Donald Trump”.
“Can you imagine him being governor of this state?” Mr Biden asked, as the crowd responded with shouts of: “No, no!”
“The eyes of the nation are on California,” he warned.
The results of the race, in which Mr Newsom needs a majority vote to hold his job, are likely to influence the 2022 mid-terms, when control of Congress again will be in play and the party that controls the White House historically loses seats. They could determine how prominently Democrats campaign on Covid-19 restrictions that many Republicans have decried as unnecessary and overly burdensome.
Mr Newsom’s ouster would be a stunning rebuke in heavily Democratic California, where the party controls every statewide office and dominates the legislature and congressional delegation. Less than three years ago he was elected in a landslide.
Recent polling has shown Mr Newsom holding an edge in his bid to save his job.
Other prominent candidates in the race are Republican Caitlyn Jenner and Democrat Kevin Paffrath.
“There’s no scenario where we lose tomorrow,” Newsom strategist Sean Clegg said.