In California Recall, a Late 'Curveball'

Rise of controversial radio host Larry Elder has some Republicans worried
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2021 9:42 AM CDT
Updated Aug 29, 2021 10:00 AM CDT
In California Recall, a Late 'Curveball'
Conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Norwalk, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

The recall election for California Gov. Gavin Newsom is Sept. 14—though mail ballots already are being cast—and the contest remains tight in the polls. It's so close that any one of a number of factors could decide it, and the recent surge of conservative radio host Larry Elder is one of them. The Hill describes him as an "11th-hour curveball," one that has the potential to work in Newsom's favor. Coverage:

  • Controversy: As Elder has become one of the GOP frontrunners, controversy has dogged him. Politico interviewed a former fiancee who accuses Elder of pulling a gun on her, and Alexandra Datig then filed a police report about the alleged incident. The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating, per the Mercury News.
  • Controversy, II: Meanwhile, CNN dug up controversial comments Elder has made about women over the years. "Glass ceiling? Ha! What glass ceiling? Women, women exaggerate the problem of sexism," he said in 1996. Elder, who is Black, also said "Blacks exaggerate the significance of racism." This latter issue has caused critics to call him "the Black face of white supremacy," writes columnist Erika D. Smith in the Los Angeles Times. Elder denies it, but Smith writes that the comments of his supporters makes his denial hard to believe.

  • The effect: So how might all this controversy affect the race? Voters will get two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and, if so, by whom? "I think if people are scared of the fact that Larry Elder is going to become the next governor, they'll just vote no" on the first question, Randy Economy, one of the Republican organizers of the recall, tells the Hill. "Sure, there's a concern."
  • Elder's response: Elder accused his critics of employing the "politics of personal destruction." After Datig filed her police complaint, he tweeted: "These are salacious allegations. People do not get into public life precisely because of this type of politics of personal destruction. I am not going to dignify this with a response—it’s beneath me."
  • Polls: A CBS News poll this month shows Newsom with a razor-thin lead at the moment. Among likely voters, 52% say he should not be recalled. Elder is far from the only candidate running to replace Newsom, and 10News looks at the other frontrunners.
  • Mad moms: Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that recall backers say moms upset with school closures also could be a decisive factor. Newsom "didn’t understand mad moms, which are the same as soccer moms," says Anna Hyde Dunsmore, campaign manager of a recall group. The story digs in, pointing out that it's unclear whether these moms will actually blame Newsom for his handling of the pandemic. It's just one more wildcard.
(Read more Gavin Newsom stories.)

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