OAKLAND — Conservative talk show host Larry Elder joined a growing field of Republican candidates in the California recall on Monday, telling his national radio audience that he will focus on crime, homelessness, housing costs and school choice during his campaign to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom.
"Maybe, just maybe, I can do something about this," said Elder, 69, on the Salem Radio Network. "The target is Gavin Newsom. It is time for this man to go."
With his run, Elder joins more than 90 potential candidates who have expressed interest in the Sept. 14 special election. Elder immediately announced an official campaign website for donors and supporters, saying that "we're going to need so much money to compete" with Newsom, who has raised at least $20 million.
Elder charged that President Biden has "declared war" on small businesses in America and that Newsom has "done the same thing by clamping down on small businesses, while keeping his own open" during the Covid-19 pandemic. While that attack has circulated among conservatives on social media, The Sacramento Bee in April determined that the allegation about Newsom's Plumpjack Winery was false.
Elder also charged that Newsom is "beholden to the teachers union” and has failed to re-open California schools in a timely manner. The California Teachers Association endorsed Newsom in June after battling the governor over his attempt to reopen schools in late winter.
Several Republicans have entered the ring in the last few days, including Board of Equalization Member Ted Gaines and state Assemblymember Kevin Kiley. They face an uphill battle in a state where Democrats have roughly a 2-to-1 registration advantage and voters overwhelmingly opposed former President Donald Trump in 2020. Newsom and his campaign team have tried to tie the recall to Trump supporters at nearly every turn.
Elder said Monday that as a Republican, he does not apologize for supporting Trump last yer. But "Gavin Newsom will not be running against Trump,” he told listeners. "I'm my own man."
With 875,000 Twitter followers, an almost equal number on Instagram and a national media presence, Elder — known to his fans as the “Sage of South Central” — could fire up GOP voters in California and provide Republicans a national platform to air their critiques about Newsom on issues such as homelessness, crime and his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Larry is known nationally… and he’ll have a national finance base," thanks to his radio, TV and social media clout, said Louis Barnett, who will serve as Elder’s campaign manager. The campaign spokesperson will be Ying Ma, who served as spokesperson for GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson.
Elder developed a robust following in the massive Los Angeles market with a radio show on KABC before being picked up nationally on ABC Radio Networks. He was fired in 2014 from KABC, according to Southern California Public Radio, but his fame was enough to earn a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2015. Before his departure, Elder's bio described him as "a blend of fiscal conservative and social liberal" who's in favor of "limited government/personal responsibility," according to SCPR.
Facing a Friday deadline to enter the race, Elder appears to be targeting conservative voters who may not be motivated by other Republican candidates, which include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; businessman John Cox; former Rep. Doug Ose; former reality TV star and Olympian Caitlyn Jenner; Kiley and Gaines.
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