Radio talk show host and 2021 Gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder announced on Tuesday that he would not be running for Governor again in November.
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Elder, a radio talk show host for more than three decades, made his first major foray into politics last year when he joined in the raceas a late candidate in the 2021 Governor recall election. His presence in the field immediately turned things around for Republican hopefuls.
Before his entry no candidate had a large lead against Gov. Gavin Newsom. Elder’s entrance into the race in July quickly propelled him as the replacement candidate frontrunner, with Newsom suddenly facing the prospect of actually being recalled. Polls in late July and early August even had potential voters either coming in evenly or slightly in favor of recalling Newsom.
However, in the final six weeks, Democrats and Newsom’s team pushed hard, and brought out the vote among Democrats across the state, turning the tide once again through a large advertising campaign, targeting heavy Democratic areas for voter drives, and bringing in celebrities and prominent lawmakers, including Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden to appear with Newsom at rallies. While Newsom escaped the recall with just under 62% of the vote, Elder came away as the top recall replacement candidate with 3.56 million votes, or 48.8% of the replacement candidate vote. The next closest candidate, Kevin Paffrath, only had 9.6% of the replacement vote.
While Elder’s strong finish encouraged many to support him in a run for 2022, Elder ultimately decided to not run for Governor again this year. Instead, Elder announced that he would be creating a Political Action Committee (PAC), Elder for America, with the purpose of helping Republicans win back the House and Senate in the mid-terms this year, as well as focus on some local candidates in need of assistance.
“I ran for Governor because I wanted to make a difference,” said Elder in a statement on Tuesday. “While I may not know what the future holds for me politically, our campaign’s ability to attract millions of votes and millions of dollars in a very short time demonstrates we have a message that resonates with Americans, and I believe we can put that to good use. Today, we don’t just have a state to save, we have a country save. The radical left’s woke agenda is destroying America.
“I pledge to fight for important issues in places where we can make a real difference in the outcome. The elite class has plenty of special interest groups and lobbyists to represent them. It’s high time the American people have their own representation.”
An open field for GOP candidates in the 2022 Gubernatorial race
Many political insiders noted on Tuesday, while not unexpected, Elder bowing out now will likely lead to an open field for the GOP candidate this year.
“We see this often, with someone running once and then going back to things they can be more of use politically,” former lobbyist Harry Schultz told the Globe Tuesday. “Running for Governor, again, in a Democratic majority state may not be the best use of his skills. But helping raise money and support for the GOP to take back both houses in November, that is a lot more doable. Plus Elder is more of a public figure after last years run, so he could help out a lot of those on the fence districts in California, especially in SoCal in places like Orange County and out in Riverside and San Bernardino. If the GOP can turn a few more of those districts in CA, especially with redistricting changing some things up, his PAC can be a huge boost.”
“Plus, the GOP now can ease into primary season and see who wants to run and maybe give some candidates exposure.”
“This was a smart move for Elder. It would be difficult to win against Newsom, but his support, network, and cash-raising will be much more effective on closer House and Senate races. Notice no Democrats are coming out and saying this is a good thing he isn’t running. They know he can hurt the party much more and more drastically with a PAC. We’ll really see all this kick in after the primaries in June.”
With Elder now out, current declared GOP candidates include 2018 and 2021 Gubernatorial candidate John Cox, former San Diego Mayor and 2021 Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Faulconer, former Congressman and 2021 Gubernatorial candidate Doug Ose, as well as a host of other candidates with not as large voter bases. Other candidates may declare soon as well.