Governor Gavin Newsom went after recall candidate radio host Larry Elder, telling supporters what an Elder-led California could possibly bring.
Ever since the recall election became imminent earlier this year, Newsom has avoided calling out specific candidates. Instead, he and supporters have stuck to attacking the recall as a whole, charging the recall effort as nothing more than a Republican-led power grab.
However, Newsom, along with state and national Democrats, have failed to bring election attention to Democratic voters and to left-leaning California voters who tend to only vote during major even-numbered year elections when presidential and congressional races are held.
Instead, Republicans, as well as Democratic and independent voters who have been disaffected with Newsom remain steadfast in not only having their core voting bloc vote but also in attracting normally middle of the road or undecided voters.
Some of Newsom’s policies, such as his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spike in crime, and his response to the drought and wildfires, have spurred so many Californians to vote against him in recent months, that entire regions that normally vote Democrat have now turned against him.
According to the most recent poll, Newsom now only has a 2 point lead, 48%-46%, capping off a months long slide since May where he had a comfortable lead following the state opening up once again and COVID-19 restrictions falling quickly across the state.
Elder’s rising popularity since last month has also been of growing concern. According to the Emerson College poll released earlier this week, Elder currently has the support of 23% of all voters among recall candidates, totaling as much as the next 5 candidates combined. This level of support may have been the final straw for the Newsom campaign, resulting in Newsom finally targeting Elder specifically.
In a Zoom call with anti-recall campaign volunteers, Newsom accused Elder of being a Trump supporter, wanting to curtail abortion rights in the state, of not believing in climate change, and being pro-fracking. Newsom also went after Elder’s support of a $0 minimum wage.
“The leading candidate thinks climate change is a hoax, believes we need more offshore oil drilling, more fracking, does not believe a woman has the right to choose and actually came out against Roe v. Wade, and does not believe in a minimum wage,” said Newsom in his Zoom speech on Thursday. “I’m not making that up. Zero. I mean, he’s not even debating the merits or demerits of $15 an hour.
“If I’m recalled, the Republican who takes my place will have the power to reshape the state court system and would have allies such as [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).
“At the end of the day, this is all about turnout. They may turn out in record numbers. But there are more of us, meaning more that believe like us, including many Republicans that just reject Trump and Trumpism. But don’t underestimate the damage of what a Republican Governor can do here. I don’t want to see California follow the policies of [Florida Governor] Ron DeSantis and go off a cliff.”
“Gavin Newsom is running scared”
The Elder campaign responded to the Governor’s remarks in an e-mailed statement on Friday, noting that Newsom is now going directly after Elder because of his dwindling support.
“Gavin Newsom is running scared,” said Elder spokeswoman Ying Ma in the e-mail. “He cannot defend his horrendous record on crime, homelessness, the rising cost of living, water shortages, uncontrollable wildfires, and tyrannical COVID lockdowns. Larry believes in liberty, personal responsibility, private enterprise, and the ingenuity of the people of California, not Newsom’s repressive edicts or the cronyism of his allies.”
Political insiders have noted that Newsom is playing it smart, and is only now resorting to calling out Elder because of the new poll data, and because Elder is an “easier” target.
“Up until now there has really been no leading candidate that could really light a fire to drum up Democratic support,” former lobbyist Harry Schultz told the Globe on Friday. “Faulconer had previously had leads among the recall candidate, but he is a moderate who has remained somewhat distanced from Trump, who has gone against the party on issues like homelessness before, and who is saying that people should vaccinate. There’s a lot a lot there that really sticks out. Cox, who also previously led, was a different problem in that Newsom had previously went after him back in 2018, so a lot would be covered ground again but with a few new issues sprinkled in like COVID. It would have been like how Eisenhower beat Stevenson the second time around in ’56, but with the danger of not enticing voters in the second time around.”
“Elder gives Newsom that type of person he has been railing against for years. He pointed out some of the issues he is very opposed to him on. So Newsom is trying to get voters to come out against this guy. And since he said this to volunteers, some of those will probably become major talking points in ads or by canvassers in the coming weeks.”
“With Elder rising now, Newsom now has a specific target to go after on some of these major issues. Newsom needs more people voting against the recall. He needs to draw out that support. And by calling out Elder specifically now, he hopes to get that. He hopes to show people who voted for him 3 years ago who plan not to vote this year what will happen if they don’t. Conversely though, Elder has a few cards up his sleeve he can pull out at any time to counter these things, but we won’t see them played until the home stretch of the election.”
The recall election is to be held on September 14th, with mail-in ballots scheduled to go out later this month.
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