Gov. Gavin Newsom faced a recall election at least in part because of his state’s strict approach to battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and after the recall failed resoundingly on Tuesday, the governor told national Democrats to “lean into” pandemic-related mandates and restrictions.

“We need to stiffen our spines and lean into keeping people safe and healthy,” he told CBS News Thursday. “We shouldn’t be timid in trying to protect people’s lives and mitigate the spread and transmission of the disease.”

As of Thursday morning, “no” on the recall led “yes” 63.8% to 36.2%. Newsom’s final advertisements and campaign messaging centered around his statewide vaccine mandate for health care workers and vaccination-or-test mandate for school personnel, two policies his Republican challengers vowed to revoke.

“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also a motivating factor in this election,” he said on CBS. “This was an odd-year, off-month election and the turnout was off the charts because people were motivated because they understood what was at stake. The consequences were that clear, and Democrats, I hope, were paying attention.”

Newsom’s remarks come after President Joe Biden announced a sweeping nationwide workplace vaccination-or-test mandate that could cover 100 million Americans. Republicans have railed against the policy, and business leaders and unions have also voiced concerns.

Polling on Biden’s plan has been limited so far, but an Axios/Ipsos poll found 60% support for the workplace mandate and a Politico/Morning Consult poll found 58% support.

Because 75% of eligible American adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, some Democratic strategists have speculated there’s a “silent majority” of those who would favor strong vaccine mandates, but are often drowned out by the minority that is unvaccinated.

In California, the legislature looks likely to consider several bills that would impose additional vaccine mandates in January 2022. One bill would require residents to show proof of vaccination to enter many indoor businesses, and another would create a statewide workplace vaccination requirement.

“[The recall election occurred] in no small degree because of our approach to the pandemic, so what I’m saying here is, be affirmative,” Newsom said. “Don’t be timid. Lean in. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about formal authority of setting the tone and tenor on masks — on vaccines and masks. But it’s the moral authority that we have: that we’re on the right side of history and we’re doing the right thing to save people’s lives.”

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