Talk show host may run in governor recall election

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Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — Conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder is considering running for governor in the Sept. 14 recall election that seeks to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a Democrat, scheduled the election July 1 after state election officials certified that enough valid petition signatures had been turned in to qualify the election for the ballot.

The September date ensures the recall campaign will be relatively brief, with candidates having only 10 weeks to make their pitches to voters.

The Republican-backed recall is the result of complaints about Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his orders that closed schools and businesses.

Elder, 69, would join an already crowded Republican field that includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Falcouner, Republican businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial election; former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose and reality TV personality and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner.

Elder issued a statement June 30 night saying he was seriously considering entering the race and would announce his decision this week. The entry of the nationally syndicated radio show host would add another celebrity to the race.

Tom Del Beccaro, a former leader of the state Republican Party who now chairs Rescue California, one of the groups promoting the recall, said Elder would help drive support for the recall in his Los Angeles base.

“Statewide races in California are often won or lost in L.A. County,” said Del Beccaro, who is not aligned with any candidate. Elder “is going to bring a constituency that is going to help us get” votes.

Steve Frank, a longtime conservative activist serving as Elder’s spokesman, said his entry into the race would become “a major game-changer.” People across the political spectrum “know him, and many listen to his show.”

Elder, who is Black, also would bring more diversity to the Republican ranks.

Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney said Elder’s entry into the race would be a setback for Cox because “Elder would appeal to the hard-core Republican, conservative base that would have been Cox’s base.”

Faulconer is considered a GOP moderate.

Pitney doubted Elder’s race would play a significant factor, with the Black vote typically running strongly Democratic. Elder “has a reputation for being a provocative conservative, not a champion of African-American interests,” Pitney said.

No big-name Democrats are among the 57 people who have already filed their intention to run in the recall election. Prospective candidates have until July 16 to file for the race.

The Democrats failed to run a high-profile candidate in 2003, the only time in state history that a state official has been recalled by voters.

Gov. Gray Davis was removed from office and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was swept into office. Schwarzenegger was elected to a full four-year term in 2006, the last time a Republican held a statewide elective office.

In the 2003 recall, 135 candidates qualified for the ballot but only four — Schwarzenegger, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, state Sen. Tom McClintock and Green Party member Peter Camejo — received more than 1% of the vote.

Republican candidates are accusing Newsom of inflicting unnecessary financial pain statewide, while Democrats have sought to frame the contest as driven by far-right extremists and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Newsom’s campaign issued a statement describing the election as “a naked attempt by Trump Republicans to grab control in California.” It called on his supporters to “defend our state.”

Faulconer issued a statement that said: “The people have spoken and this recall is happening. This movement is powered by Californians from every community — Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

“I am ready to lead this recall and begin the California comeback to clean up our streets, cut taxes on the middle class and reopen our schools,” Faulconer added. “Change is coming for California and retirement is coming for Gavin Newsom.”

In a recall election, voters will be asked two questions: First, should Newsom be removed, yes or no? The second question would be a list of replacement candidates to choose from, if a majority of voters cast ballots to remove Newsom.

The state Finance Department estimated state and county costs for the recall at $276 million.

Qualifications, requirements and additional information about running as a replacement candidate in the upcoming California Gubernatorial Recall Elections can be found at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/upcoming-elections/2021-ca-gov-recall.

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