The California Republican Party (CAGOP) approved an endorsement vote process to potentially select an official candidate in the California Governor Recall Election during the weekend.
CAGOP delegates will vote virtually on August 7th to vote for one of the several dozen Republicans who made the ballot, which includes notable candidates such as 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox, radio host Larry Elder, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, state Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines, former Olympian and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), and former Congressman Doug Ose.
The party largely approved of holding a vote during the Saturday meeting, with CAGOP chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson saying that a transparent vote on the matter was the best way to decide on a possible endorsement.
“I have consistently called for a fair, transparent process that would allow our party to go into the recall election united and strong with a decision to endorse a candidate or a decision not to endorse,” said Patterson in a statement on Saturday.
Many candidates, such as Faulconer, have also come out in favor of the party selecting an official candidate over a month before the election, saying that an intra-party argument would only help Gavin Newsom beat the recall and be in a better position in 2022.
“Having an intra-party Republican fight over the next two weeks does nothing but benefit Gavin Newsom,” explained Faulconer campaign manager Stephen Puetz during the weekend. “Even if one person emerges, the net result is it’s much less likely Newsom gets recalled because it negatively impacts Republican intensity.”
Many also argued that a “united” candidate could receive GOP funds, have more access to party resources, and generally bring out a more widespread campaign.
Division over an official party endorsement
However, some candidates have objected to the party selecting a candidate outright. Many feel that Faulconer is the candidate favored most by established party members and that picking a candidate now would only hurt momentum of voters across the state in voting in the recall by hurting grassroots movements.
“Now the California Republican Party wishes to change their own rules to help Kevin Faulconer. Hypocrisy,” tweeted John Cox on Sunday. “With weeks until the recall, changing the party endorsement rules to favor Faulconer is the type of corrupt machine politics every Republican opposes.
“Trickery. Political scheming. Moving the goalposts… I’m calling out the insiders at the CAGOP, just as I have the California Democrats. The voters are sick and tired of both of you. Changing the rules at this point is a slap in the face to the grassroots activists who made this recall happen. It wasn’t the CAGOP. It was insiders who gathered the signatures, who knocked on the doors. It was the grassroots. Today, I stand with them and NOT the political insiders.
“I am rejecting this backdoor deal because I don’t want the insiders to dampen the enthusiasm of the grassroots and drive down turnout. I want the activists and independents and all those who believe California must be saved to know that there is someone fighting for them.”
I am rejecting this backdoor deal because I don’t want the insiders to dampen the enthusiasm of the grassroots and drive down turnout. I want the activists and independents and all those who believe California must be saved to know that there is someone fighting for them. #CAgov pic.twitter.com/8WApOYCsuj
— John Cox (@BeastJohnCox) July 23, 2021
Political experts noted that an endorsement could also have an effect on the 2022 gubernatorial election.
“The endorsement could also create a favorite for next year,” explained former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe on Monday. “The party picking someone in a few weeks, and then that candidate having a good showing on election day, well, that can mean a possible favorite going in, especially if Newsom just barely squeaks by and the endorsed candidate gets a large percentage. Polls have shown that the majority of voters wouldn’t vote for Newsom in 2022 and want someone new. So this endorsement can have some long-term political effects here.”
The endorsement vote is due to take place on August 7th, only three days after the first recall candidate debate. For a candidate to be chosen officially by the party, they will need at least 60% of the delegates votes.