Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder could make history as California’s first Black governor after he quickly became the clear front-runner among the 46 candidates looking to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Sept. 14 recall election.
Early voting is underway for the Sept. 14 special election, in which Californians will first answer the question of whether to recall Newsom or keep him in office. A second question on the ballot will ask who of the 46 candidates should replace the governor.
California has never had a Black governor.
Newsom is urging his supporters to leave the second question blank and to just focus on voting “no” on the recall, but his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including his shutting down of schools and churches and continued mask mandates, has many Californians eager for a change.
According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, 48% of likely California voters want Newsom recalled, compared to 47.5% who don’t. Elder is leading the crowded list of possible replacements by 10.8 percentage points, according to the same source.
If elected, Elder has vowed to immediately suspend Newsom’s order requiring teachers and school staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as his order requiring masks in schools.
“Just consider the Republican candidates running for office,” Newsom said in an interview last week. “Not only do they all share one thing in common, their support for Trump, but they also support eliminating mask mandates in our public schools, eliminating vaccine verifications.”
“The leading candidate Larry Elder says he’ll do that day one,” he continued. “So, I have no interest in taking us off the COVID cliff.”
Elder has also been attacked over a series of allegations that he has denied. Elder forcefully denied a claim from his former fiancée that he brandished a gun during an argument the two had in 2015. Republican candidates Kevin Faulconer and Caitlyn Jenner called on him to drop out of the race over the allegations.
Elder has also had to fight racism claims by the left because of his political views. A column Friday by The Los Angeles Times called him “the Black face of White supremacy.”
“I anticipated that would happen. This is why a lot of people don’t go into politics because of the politics of personal destruction,” Elder told Fox News this week.
“This is not the first time the L.A. Times has attacked me, there is another writer who all but called me a Black David Duke,” he added. “They are scared to death.”