The California Republican Party voted overwhelmingly Saturday not to endorse any candidate in the recall election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, sidestepping a potentially nasty fight over a GOP favorite that threatened to divide Republicans and depress turnout in the race. The lopsided vote to skip an endorsement—supported by about 90% of delegates attending at a virtual meeting—reflected concerns that an internal feud among candidates and their supporters might cleave party ranks and sour Republicans who wouldn't bother to vote if their candidate was snubbed, the AP reports. There are 24 Republicans on the recall ballot, with leading contenders including talk radio host Larry Elder, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox, state legislator Kevin Kiley, former Olympian and reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner, and former congressman Doug Ose.
Republicans feared that fallout from an endorsement squabble could sap support from the critical first question on the ballot: whether or not to remove Newsom. If that vote doesn't get a majority, the results on the second question are irrelevant, and the governor retains his job. The decision Saturday was not without risk. GOP voter registration in the heavily Democratic state is a paltry 24%. Some party leaders believed the best route to victory in the Sept. 14 election was concentrating the GOP's money and volunteers behind a single candidate. Some will see the decision as a setback for Faulconer, who was considered an early favorite for the endorsement. Faulconer had been seeking the nod, but his campaign later shifted gears, saying he no longer believed it was in the party's interest to back a single candidate. Newsom, meanwhile, has been stepping up his campaign activity, as polls show the recall election could go either way.
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