Opinion: The California Recall Just Got a Lot Scarier

Larry Elder, the leading Republican recall candidate, is reported to have made some big promises to the anti-abortion crowd

If you weren’t already worried about a Republican takeover of California, you sure as hell should be now.

Last week I warned that if Gavin Newsom is recalled, California will become like Florida, mired in an endless pandemic by a right-wing Republican who is more interested in throwing red meat to his fans than addressing a public health emergency.

But it ain’t just Florida.

This week the Supreme Court, in an unsigned middle-of-the-night move, allowed Texas to implement a six-week abortion ban that includes a $10,000 bounty for private citizens who sue and win against anyone who dares to get an abortion (or performs an abortion or even drives someone to get an abortion) after that absurdly early date. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

If that sounds dangerous and horrifying, that’s because it is. I mean, it’s a damn bounty system. In the United States of America. In 2021.

Now maybe you’re thinking, well, that’s Texas—that could never happen here in California. Normally you’d be right, but there’s nothing normal about the times we’re living in.

The right-wing Republican vying for the opportunity to turn California into Florida now appears eager to make us a little bit Texas, too. Larry Elder, the conservative radio host who’s accused of brandishing a gun at his ex-fiancee and also said one could argue that slave owners should get reparations, appears to have made some terrifying promises to an anti-abortion advocate in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In a series of tweets Thursday afternoon, L.A.-based anti-abortion activist Lila Rose announced that she was endorsing Elder’s campaign after speaking with the radio host and his campaign and receiving assurances that he would take several hard-right steps to curb abortion rights in California. According to Rose’s tweets, Elder pledged to use line-item veto power to cut all abortion funding, to veto any legislation that expands rights or access to abortion, to appoint anti-abortion judges and regulators, and to drop the charges against the individuals who created a fake company so they could secretly record Planned Parenthood employees.

So yeah, this Texas stuff just got real for the Golden State, even though Elder later tried to downplay the threat to women’s right to choose, telling the Washington Post that it wasn’t on his “priority list.”

Rose didn’t say anything about trying to bring a bounty system out West in the tweets, but we’re seeing in real time what a slippery slope this is. And remember, Newsom has to get to 50 percent of the vote. Elder doesn’t.

The prospect of an Elder governorship seems to have scared the living daylights out of a lot of Californians, including newbies like myself, and new polls suggest Newsom is doing well in the run-up to September 14.

But there is a lot of voting to go still, and who trusts polls anymore?

So if you’re a woman who likes her reproductive rights or a guy who gives a damn about the rights of women given that it (usually) takes two people to make a baby, then you’re going to want to vote no and make sure your friends do too.

Otherwise things could get real Red State around here real fast.

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