California Politics: The recall focuses on Newsom and Elder
Few political candidates publish as many social media posts as Larry Elder, the longtime talk radio host, who sprinted from the start line and sprinted past the other 45 candidates trying to replace Governor Gavin Newsom in the California recall election .
Most of Elder’s posts promote articles on conservative websites. But rarely does his followers see a reaction to something that is happening at that moment.
That changed suddenly on Thursday when Elder cracked down on a series of serious allegations made by a former fiancée, the first of two articles that challenged his previous behavior or statements.
“It is precisely because of this kind of politics of personal destruction that people do not come into public life,” he wrote in a post. “I will not honor that with an answer – it is below me.”
The allegations surfaced hours before a nationwide televised debate between all of the top Republican candidates except Elder, and towards the end of the first week of voting in the month-long election. And although the topic was not brought up in the debate, it clearly showed a major trend in the running: An intense focus no longer only on Newsom, but also on the Los Angeles native who calls himself “the wise man from South Central”.
The view from Sacramento
For reports and exclusive analysis from Bureau Chief John Myers, get our California Politics Newsletter.
Enter your email address
Sign me up
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
And this is just the beginning of a double political season in California. Little more than a year will pass between the end of this historic recall and the election of a governor for a full four-year term the following November. And most – maybe all – of the top contestants could choose to stay for the second competition.
Elder’s air raid, Faulconer’s blows
For much of the past week, the recall has felt like a two-man vote, with Elder and Newsom targeting each other and largely ignoring everyone else.
And there are many reasons for that. Elder’s candidacy has always been based on public outrage over Newsom’s actions. He’s not the only GOP recall candidate in that regard, but Elder has managed to win the national attention that others are sure to crave and has received several invitations from conservative-friendly television and radio programs in the past few weeks on – an attack over the air and full of claims that went largely unchallenged by its friendly broadcasters.
But the lofty campaign relies on attacking Newsom more than explaining to Elder. In a question-and-answer session via Zoom with reporters on Wednesday to discuss forest fires and forest management, Elder left the policy details mostly to his guest, Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), who stepped in to say that he would implement “sensible” forest fire containment plans, if chosen.
And when he doesn’t promise big changes, Elder attacks the press. This is a strategy that could continue after Thursday’s revelations: first allegations made by a former romantic partner who told Politico that she was fearful for her safety, then in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle detailing Elder’s writings, that “intelligent women” “should fearlessly” overlook ”men’s workplace behavior.
The criticism led the other prominent Republican candidates to accept what is often referred to as the “11th Party’s Commandment, “first adopted by the late President Reagan in the 1966 governor race and a saying borrowed from San Diego-based doctor Gaylord Parkinson, who then became chairman Californian GOP: “You shouldn’t talk badly of another Republican.”
Kiley and Faulconer made statements – Kiley, a mild insistence that “every woman who comes up deserves to be heard,” and a much harsher criticism from Faulconer.
“Larry Elder has neither the judgment nor the character to lead our state,” Faulconer said in his statement. “His writings and statements are attacks on working women and every family in California.”
It was the second time that week that Faulconer had called Elder. In Tuesday’s debate, he criticized the premise of an Elder 2000 article that insisted that research showed that “women know less about politics, economics, and current affairs than men.”
“That’s nonsense. And we should call it that,” said Faulconer.
The change in rhetoric could be significant. It is the first real indication that someone is reconsidering the GOP contestants’ discussion point that they will only play against Newsom, not against each other. And should the recall fail and Newsom stay in office, Faulconer’s move appears to anticipate that Elder would pose a significant threat in next June’s “Top Two” national election.
Having won over a number of people in the GOP base and possibly the original proponents of the recall, Kiley has largely kept his fire on Elder. His position in the race may have improved this week when former MP Doug Ose, another Conservative from the Sacramento area, was eliminated after suffering a heart attack.
And it probably wasn’t a good week for businessman John Cox, who dutifully showed up to both debates but made headlines during Tuesday’s event for the wrong reason.
As he began to make his opening remarks, a man approached the stage and threw a subpoena on his unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial bid.
Newsom targets Elder
While Newsom has continued his strategy of portraying the recall as a Republican seizure of power, it has begun to shift its focus a little on Elder.
The latest TV ad from the governor’s campaign highlights his work on the state’s response to the Delta variant of COVID-19, but then pans to a photo of Elder with former President Trump as the narrator says Elder “would sell deadly conspiracy theories and eliminate the vaccine”. Mandates on the first day. “
The campaign strategies of the two men were on the minds of all the political advisors I checked with this week, whose candid assessments of the race were offered through a series of non-attributable phone calls and texts. While some wondered if Newsom was inadvertently helping Elder by lifting him out of the crowd, others said making the GOP candidate the face of every far-right position imaginable in hopes of the still-slow base was a wise game to motivate the democratic voters to appear.
As for Republicans, some strategists believe the GOP candidates are exaggerating their appeals to the grassroots voters they already have – Elder in particular might instead try to present himself as a political underdog to appeal to the same voters as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the recall 2003. Finally, even a low turnout could still benefit the Democrats somewhat.
At the moment, the GOP candidates seem similar rather than different. This is especially true of their views on the retraction of Newsom’s rules on COVID-19 vaccines and masks.
But voters will ultimately have to see differences. And should the internal party scramble get nasty, some strategists said it could disrupt GOP politics in California in a variety of races from 2022 – not just in the competition for governor.
Do you like this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times
Your support will help us deliver the most important news. Become a subscriber.
Voting begins, fire zone concerns
We are nearing the end of the first full week of voting on the month-long recall election. And as discussed in last week’s newsletter, the deciding factor in this race will be whether the voters who appear reflect California’s registered voters – nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans and nearly 30% independent independents or members of third parties.
Paul Mitchell, longtime political advisor and redistribution analyst, tracks semi-real-time ballot returns as reported by counties across the state. On Thursday night, around 9% of the ballot papers had been returned. So far, democratic enthusiasm has surpassed the party’s share of the electorate. And voters 50 and over cast 71% of the votes already reported by the local electoral offices. These numbers are too small and too early to draw real conclusions, but that is likely to change quickly over the next seven to ten days.
Meanwhile, some readers have asked what voting arrangements are being made in the Northern California counties, where devastating forest fires have broken out in recent weeks. A spokesman for Foreign Secretary Shirley Weber said Thursday that officials in four counties – Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen and Plumas – are implementing natural disaster plans. Voters in these regions can provide a unique address to receive a ballot. Or they can vote now in a district electoral office or in person until election day.
It is important to note that ballot papers cannot be forwarded. Voters must therefore contact their local electoral office in the event they have to evacuate the place of residence indicated on their registration.
The resilience in elections in California is always a provisional ballot, which is handed in personally at a voting location. These ballot papers are set aside until a registration and eligibility check of the voter is completed and, when all checked, a count is made.
August 24, 2021 | 11:22 am
When is the re-election?
What’s on the ballot?
Who is running to replace Newsom?
If a majority of voters say yes and want to call Newsom back, what happens?
The candidate with the most votes will be elected for the remainder of Newsom’s term, with about a year and a half remaining.
Would you like more information?
California’s political blitz
Almost a year after a Newsom-appointed “strike team” recommended a revision of California’s unemployment benefit system, hundreds of thousands of unemployed residents continue to experience payment delays and the state is still grappling with billions of dollars being lost to fraud.
– In the scramble between California political donors to support Newsom’s fight against the recall, Netflix co-boss Reed Hastings is near the top of the rankings – with an expensive mea culpa.
Legislation that would allow new apartment buildings in some California communities is emerging as the major housing bill in Sacramento this year, though its impact on the state’s housing crisis would likely be limited.
– As public health officials continue their efforts to vaccinate millions of hard-to-reach Californians against COVID-19, they are doing so largely without the help of Blue Shield of California, the company Newsom sought to oversee earlier this year.
Keep in touch
Did someone forward this to you? Sign up here to receive California Politics in your inbox.
Until next time, send your comments, suggestions, and news tips to Politics@latimes.com.