Radio host Larry Elder makes late entry into California recall race

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The field of Republicans hoping to unseat California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom just got a little more crowded.

Los Angeles-based talk radio host Larry Elder announced Monday that he would enter the recall race with a little more than two months to go before voting day, joining a crowded GOP candidate list that includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, failed 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox and Olympic gold medalist-turned-reality TV mainstay Caitlyn Jenner.

“I’m running for governor because the decline of California isn’t the fault of its people,” Elder said in a statement. “Our government is what’s ruining the Golden State. Our schools are closed to both students and their parents. Our streets aren’t safe from rising violent crime or the disaster of rising homelessness. And the scandals of Sacramento aren’t going to stop on their own. It’s time to tell the truth. We’ve got a state to save.”

Elder, a frequent Fox News guest whose website dubs him the “sage from South Central,” told the Associated Press he was motivated to enter the race by a “fire in the belly to see if I can do something … to move the needle in the right direction.”

The 69-year-old Elder, who is black, added that his presence in the race counters the Newsom campaign’s narrative that the recall effort is “led by Trump white nationalists.”

“Do I look like a white nationalist?” Elder asked.

The recall effort against Newsom, launched in January 2020, gained strength due to the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the closure of schools and businesses even as Newsom himself was photographed violating state restrictions on indoor gatherings.

The state’s economy was reopened last month, but California continues to suffer from an out-of-control homeless crisis, spiking crime rates, and looming water and power shortages. Newsom’s popularity also suffered from a multibillion-dollar fraud scandal at the state unemployment agency.

“I think this is a race between Gavin Newsom and me. I don’t think about the other candidates,” said Elder, who will formally launch his campaign Tuesday after filing the required paperwork. Candidates have until Thursday to enter the race.

In the Sept. 14 recall election, voters will be asked two questions: Should Newsom be removed? And then, who should replace him from a list of registered replacement candidates? However, the second votes only count if a majority votes yes on the first question, and Republicans believe Elder’s presence in the race will help drive up support on the critical first question.

With dozens of candidates expected, it’s possible that a winner could top the field with as little as 20 percent or 30 percent of the vote.

With Post wires

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