With a week left until California decides whether Governor Gavin Newsom will finish his term or if one of 46 political curiosities will replace him, GOP sort-of-frontrunner Larry Elder has been spewing the kind of sentiments that have Democrats high-fiving and Republicans face-palming while Newsom makes a last-minute pitch to save his job.
Conservative radio host Elder has been dining out for months on the fact that he leads the rest of the candidate clown car in most polls—and recall rules allow for a winner with just a minuscule plurality of the vote if more than 50 percent of voters choose “Yes” on the recall question. But Elder’s recent statements have his own party brethren calling him “counterproductive.”
While other gubernatorial hopefuls have wisely kept mum about 88-year-old California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Elder gleefully bragged to fellow right-wing talking-points guy Mark Levine last week that he would appoint a Republican to replace Feinstein, flipping the Senate, if she died in office.
“Nobody’s seen her in weeks,” Elder said. “I’m told it’s an even worse mental condition than Joe Biden… They’re afraid I’m going to replace her with a Republican—which I most certainly would do and that would be an earthquake in Washington D.C.”
And when anti-abortion activist Lila Rose tweeted a litany of tactics she says Elder promises to employ to take away women’s reproductive rights in the Golden State, he didn’t deny any of it when pressed by Lara Korte of the Sacramento Bee, but he did mention that sex education has “no place” in California schools. Elder then had his security team block Korte from asking any follow-up questions.
In the midst of all that, Elder is getting grief for his novel solution to the painful question of slave reparations, telling Candace Owens in July that slave owners could have been “owed reparations” because slaves were their “property,” before some nagging Amendments and a Civil War.
The mounting pile of steaming statements led Orrin Heatlie, the former Yolo sheriff’s sergeant and cofounder of the recall movement, to tell Politico that Elder is “counterproductive” to his effort, adding, “I rejected his candidacy from the get-go, because he’s so far outspoken on the extreme.” (It was reported this morning that Heatlie has been “sidelined” by a case of the coronavirus; he isn’t vaccinated.)
Randy Economy, also a recall forefather, told the outlet, “He’s running for governor. He’s not a provocateur anymore. He needs to focus on the fact that if he’s elected, he’s going to be the chief executive officer of a trillion-dollar economy, and I don’t think he gets that. He’s very politically naive.’’
In other happy news for Newsom, some conservative strongholds aren’t just weary of Elder’s shtick, but seem to have lost enthusiasm for the recall itself. A new poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that in the GOP-leaning Inland Empire 55 percent of likely voters oppose the recall and 46 percent favor it, while in the Orange County/San Diego region, 50 percent oppose the recall and 45 percent are for it.
As John Pitney, professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College, tells the Los Angeles Times, “If the recall people can’t beat Newsom in the Inland Empire, they can’t beat him, period.”
For his part, Newsom isn’t leaving any bit of good fortune on the table. His team seized on Elder’s brain volcano with a fundraising pitch, and Newsom released a final pitch to voters, stating, “Republicans want to take us backwards with this Sept. 14 recall. They’ll eliminate vaccine mandates for health and school workers on Day One, threatening school closures and our recovery. So I’m asking you to vote ‘no’ on the recall.”
.@GavinNewsom: "If [Senator Feinstein] decides to step down, that is an appointee of the next governor of California… Again, the national implications are overwhelming."
Control of the US Senate may very well depend on the outcome of the California recall. Vote NO. pic.twitter.com/R4eZlyE3xw
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) September 1, 2021
Finally, Caitlyn Jenner turned up with a hail Mary of her own Sunday, asking supporters in an email to “step up” with donations because, “The election is just two weeks away.”
Notes California Target Book research director Rob Pyers, “I can only gather [that this] is an attempt to suppress her own votes by informing her email distribution list that the election is in two weeks.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.