Republican California gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder badly lost his bid to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as voters overwhelmingly decided to stick with the incumbent over a right-wing extremist who has repeatedly been described as a Black white supremacist.
And it wasn’t even close.
Early estimates showed Elder losing by nearly twice the number of votes cast with about 65% of the voting precincts reporting their results.
“An overwhelmingly no vote tonight here in the state of California,” Newsome said once the race was called. “That was expressed tonight.”
There were no immediate reports of Elder’s response to his loss in the race.
Elder, who rose to prominence as a conservative talk radio host, had been the subject of an increasing number of damning reports about his past as his campaign progressed.
However, despite unearthed allegations that included the revelation that an old police report said Elder once pulled a gun on his ex-fiancee while high on marijuana, he was a big hit with the conservative and right-wing voters who helped propel his candidacy to the top of the Republican polls.
It seemed as if Elder knew his political fate days before Tuesday, as he and his supporters began to embrace an unproven narrative that Democrats were rigging the recall election to make sure he loses. It’s questionable how effective that strategy will be considering how a similar attempt in the 2020 general election by Republicans ended badly for them.
The writing was on the wall about Elder’s campaign pretty early on after he declared his candidacy in July. It only took a few weeks for the cracks in his campaign’s armor to show, like when California’s Fair Political Practices Commission launched an investigation into Elder’s financial disclosures (or lack thereof) tied to his income sources.
The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that Elder failed to indicate that he owned a business he cited on campaign paperwork as a source of his income. A representative for Elder’s acknowledged the discrepancy to the Times and seemingly dismissed it as something that happens all the time.
“We made a simple mistake and we fixed it as soon as possible,” the rep said. “These investigations are very common in campaign world.”
That prompted Elder to ditch his campaign manager and announce he filled that role with someone else.
Three days later, Politico reported that Elder’s former fiancee, Alexandra Datig, claimed he threatened her with a gun after smoking marijuana during an argument between the two back in 2015.
Elder then decided it would be best to visit Candace Owens‘ talk show and say during an interview that he believes slave owners deserved “reparations” for the loss of their “legal property” when slavery was finally made illegal.
The negative press drew attention to Elder’s sordid past of anti-Black commentary, including the time he suggested the NBA’s lifetime ban for Donald Sterling — the former team owner whose anti-Black rant exposed him as a card-carrying racist — was “unfair.” Elder also notoriously defended George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin in 2014.
Everything came to a head on Sept. 8 when, during an appearance as a homeless encampment in Venice, a white woman wearing a gorilla mask threw an egg at Elder as a growing crowd booed the candidate and all but chased him back into his car.
That prompted Elder’s conservative supporters to claim the white woman should be charged with a racist hate crime, trying — and failing — to reason that the gorilla mask was racially offensive.
Newsom, for his part, gets the chance to remain in office and serve out the remainder of his term until next year, when he will officially be up for re-election.
Newsom and Democratic leadership appealed to Californians to vote “no” and rebuff the Republican-led attempt to replace him. in an election that needed fewer than 50% of the ballots to be “no” votes.
A poll released Monday showed that 60% of the votes already cast were not in favor of recalling Newsom.
Statistics show that California’s voters are significantly less Republican than they were in 2003, the last and only time a gubernatorial recall election was successful. That was when actor Arnold Schwartzenegger’s unlikely candidacy ascended from Hollywood to the governor’s office.