Trump associate Richard Grenell will not run in California recall

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Richard Grenell, former Acting Director of U.S. National Intelligence, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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OAKLAND — Former Trump administration official Richard Grenell said Thursday he will not run to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the September recall election.

“I’ve made a decision not to run,” Grenell said on Sean Hannity's Fox News show one day before the candidate filing deadline.

Grenell enjoys widespread name recognition in conservative circles and fundraising ability after serving as ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence under former President Donald Trump, and he maintains a combative Twitter presence. He has enthusiastically promoted a recall campaign targeting Newsom and has reached out to political players about running, telling Hannity in May that he was “considering it.”

But Grenell had also signaled before that he would go in a different direction. Earlier this year, he launched a political organization called Fix California focused on voting and education, and he told Fox News that his pitch to donors focused on a long-term effort rather than “a sexy, quick fix like one hyped-up statewide race.”

Polls suggest voters in overwhelmingly Democratic California are likely to reject the recall, although Republicans have shown a greater enthusiasm to vote. Newsom also has an overwhelming cash advantage thanks to his ability to raise unlimited sums in his defense, and he has drawn seven-figure checks from labor unions and tech leaders.

If he had joined the race, Grenell would have joined a field already crowded with Republican contenders. Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, talk show host Larry Elder and state Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines have all launched campaigns in the last two weeks, joining a GOP candidate roster that already featured former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, business owner and 2018 gubernatorial runner-up John Cox, former Rep. Doug Ose and celebrity and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner.

Californians will vote on Sept. 14, although ballots will be mailed to all registered voters starting a month earlier. The recall ballot has two parts: an up-or-down question of whether Newsom should be recalled, and then a choice of who should replace him.

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