Nationally syndicated talk radio host Larry Elder entered California’s recall election on Monday in an effort to oust first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The 69-year-old attorney, nicknamed the "sage from South Central" told the Associated Press that he decided to launch his first campaign after witnessing California’s out-of-control homeless crisis, spiking crime, power and water shortages, and draconian COVID lockdowns.
"I have common sense. I have good judgment. I’m born and raised here. I think I understand the state," he said adding that he was driven by a "fire in the belly to see if I can do something … to move the needle in the right direction."
Other Republican candidates in the race include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; businessman John Cox, state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, and former US Representative Doug Ose.
Elder said, "I think this is a race between Gavin Newsom and me. I don’t think about the other candidates."
The recall against Newsom, a first-term Democrat and former mayor of San Francisco, gained support following school and business closures during the coronavirus pandemic after Newsom was caught violating his own lockdown mandates on multiple occasions.
Newsom also carved out exemptions for Hollywood film and TV production to operate even as businesses were forced to close. Newsom’s administration was also responsible for a fraud scandal at the state unemployment agency which cost the state billions of dollars. Facing the ongoing scandals and mounting criticism, Newsom reopened the state.
On Monday, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled that Newsom will not have his party affiliation next to his name when voters receive their recall ballots for the recall. Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles said in his ruling that the secretary of state’s office does not have a responsibility to repair a mistake made by Newsom’s attorneys who failed to mark the Governor’s party affiliation in their response to the recall petition.
Newsom asked California Secretary of State Shirley Weber to correct the error last month but was told by Weber’s office said the deadline had passed, and a change would require a court decision. In response, Newsom’s attorneys sued Weber, a Democrat that Newsom appointed to the position last year.
Elder has called for "returning to the bedrock Constitutional principles of limited government and maximum personal responsibility."
During the interview with the Associated Press, Elder discussed working his way through a disadvantaged high school in a historically Black neighborhood to get to Brown University, which led him to law school.
Elder is an advocate for school choice programs which could factor heavily in the election as Critical Race Theory dominates the national conversation.
Newsom campaign spokesman Dan Newman dismissed Elder as "another Trump supporter."
In California’s history, a sitting governor has only been ousted once in the state, when Democrat Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Candidates have until July 16 to declare their candidacy. With dozens of candidates expected, a winner could top the field with as little as 20 or 30 percent of the vote.