WOODLAND HILLS, California — The Jewish Republican Alliance formally endorsed conservative radio host Larry Elder for governor on Tuesday evening in the ongoing Sep. 14 recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
Elder addressed a crowd of several hundred cheering supporters in the ballroom of the local Marriott hotel, three weeks to the day before the election, with mail-in ballots already landing in voters’ mailboxes.
The Jewish Republican Alliance is a group whose mission is “to unite and energize conservatives to take action on behalf of America and Israel.”
Elder, a first-time candidate for public office, recounted his career in talk radio, and why he had finally decided to enter the political fray: to solve glaring problems that California’s liberal elite refused to address.
He said he would declare an emergency on homelessness, as well as on water, noting that the state, now in the midst of serious drought, had not added a reservoir to its storage capacity in four decades.
Elder also said that he would cancel Gov. Newsom’s mask and vaccine mandates. He himself had been vaccinated, given his age — “I’m close to 70; I know I look good,” he quipped — but would not force others to do so.
He lamented the shutdowns of public schools across the state, which hurt black and brown students most of all — and which were slow to re-open, thanks to demands from powerful teachers’ unions.
He also talked about the high cost of living in the state, which he blamed on California’s heavy regulations and high taxes.
“For 17 years, Texas has been rated the best state in which to do business. And for 17 years, California has been rated the worst. And when I get in, I’m going to turn that around,” he said.
Elder took on the issue of crime, which is a rising concern for voters in California. He said a major reason was the effort by Democrats and left-wing organizations to demonize, and defund, the police.
He added that failure to take advantage of opportunities was a far bigger factor in black struggles than discrimination.
“Racism has never been a less significant problem in America,” he said. “Never.”
He mocked media attacks, such as a recent column in the Los Angeles Times calling him the “black face of white supremacy.”
“I worked hard for that title,” he joked.
He spoke specifically about Jewish issues as well, noting that California could learn from Israel’s use of desalination to boost water supplies, and recalling the role of Jews in the Civil Rights movement.
He also recounted an anecdote about meeting Dodgers pitching legend Sandy Koufax, whom he admired as a child, at a fundraiser for the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, demonstrating an history of personal ties to the community.
He closed on a personal note, talking about his relationship with his parents, who emphasized the value of hard work.
As the audience sat in rapt attention, he recalled the experience of reconciling with his father after ten years of silence, gaining new respect for a man who had risen from poverty in the Jim Crow South.
During the question-and-answer period, Elder was asked why he has not participated in any of the several debates among contenders to replace Newsom.
Elder said that the only debate that mattered was the debate against Gov. Newsom — who, thus far, had not agreed to his challenges.
Elder, who was raised in Compton, was also asked who gave him his nickname, “the Sage of South Central.”
“I gave it to myself,” he smiled.
In three weeks, he could have a new nickname, bestowed by the voters: Governor.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.