None of the current frontrunners in the batch of 46 recall candidates showed up at Sacramento’s Guild Theater for Tuesday’s night’s second debate, but the few candidates who did show up took the opportunity to scorch Larry Elder, the right-wing radio host who is currently leading the race to replace Governor Gavin Newsom in the event of a successful recall.
The 69-year old radio star decided to skip the event—he recently announced that he won’t participate in any debates that Newsom does not participate in. But Elder wasn’t the only bold-faced candidate absent from the event. Former Congressman Doug Ose dropped out of the race Tuesday after suffering a heart attack, and reality TV Olympian Caitlyn Jenner said she was too busy assessing wildfire damage in Plumas County to make it. That left just businessman John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley onstage.
Two of the three quickly piled on Elder for his views on minimum wage. Although Cox largely agrees with Elder’s statement to California’s McClatchy-owned newspapers that zero dollars an hour would make a fine a minimum wage, Faulconer and Kiley were outraged.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, Kiley said California’s minimum wage shouldn’t be abolished but did call the current rates “way off” and suggested that the state’s lowest legal wage “probably needs to vary a bit more by region.”
Kiley also recited the talking point that California is beset by lazy people living high on unemployment checks, saying that the safety net workers pay into is so badly mismanaged that it’s become “economically irrational to go back to your jobs so small businesses continue to suffer.”
While Faulconer denounced Elder’s position as “absolutely indefensible,” Cox said there should be no state minimum wage but that a federal one is permissible “so there isn’t sweat shops and things like that.”
Still, the millionaire lamented that working people seem to be enjoying an unearned bonanza lately, saying, “Frankly, the minimum wage right now isn’t an issue because people are getting paid beaucoup bucks for doing things that used to get minimum wage because of a shortage of labor.”
Faulconer got more ammo against Elder from a May, 2000 Capitalism Magazine piece in which the gabber wrote that “women know less than men about political issues, economics, and current events.”
Said Faulconer, “That’s bullshit,” adding, “I feel strongly about it and I’m going to call it out.” The three candidates all agreed that women are smart, and also that
mandating masks for school kids is a bad idea.
But the real highpoint of the evening came early, when a private eye announced he was serving a subpoena to Cox and tossed some plastic-wrapped documents on the stage. Turns out, the investigator was representing a Virginia GOP firm that won a court decision against Cox for not paying $55,000 in political ads and $43,000 in attorney’s costs related to his doomed 2018 Governor’s run.
Dismissing the incident as “a garbage thing,” Cox later told the Times, “It’s one creditor who didn’t get paid from the 2018 campaign because he didn’t deserve to be.”
Perhaps no one deserves to be paid for that campaign, considering Cox reportedly blew $5.6 million of his own money to lose the race in a landslide.
Meanwhile, Elder remains Newsom’s most popular nemesis in this race. Though one recent poll had him trailing YouTube Democrat Kevin Paffrath, a state poll released today by Nate Silver shows the radio host leading his opponents by a wide margin—drawing 19.3 percent of approval from the state’s voters. (The runner-up, Paffrath, received 9.1 percent, then Cox in third, with 6.1 percent.)
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