David Marcus is a writer living in New York City and the author of “Charade: The Covid Lies That Crushed A Nation.” He’s got a good take on the California recall election and the rise of Larry Elder.
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) September 7, 2021
Marcus: In a week’s time Gavin Newsom will know if he is to remain the governor of California or be shown the door by voters choosing to recall him. It’s is a special election with myriad national implications. The recall effort, which began in 2020 primarily in response to Newsom’s harsh regime of COVID restrictions, is now also a referendum on crime, the rise in the number of homeless and mentally ill in our cities, and the education of our kids.
But this is not only a national race and story, it is also a state and local affair. And in a state as large as California this means that a wide range of issues, some with lesser national implications, will also be swaying the will of the people. Among these are concerns over water rights, wildfires, and local infrastructure projects.
Between now and Election Day on Sept. 14, I will travel to three distinct areas of the Golden State to take the temperature of Californians and find out what is driving their votes, if in fact they are voting at all.
My travels start in deep blue San Francisco, where Newsom was once mayor and needs a huge turnout. Then I will head to the redder Central Valley of farms and fields, and finally to Los Angeles, where Republican Larry Elder, now Newsom’s primary foil, hopes to capture the votes of frustrated Angelenos.
The state of the race today is in a confusing flux. On the first question, whether to recall Newsom, “No” voters have had a bump in the polls of late. At least one recent survey gives “No” a double digit lead. But in recall elections, enthusiasm (and turn out) tend to be with the side that initiated it and got the petitions signed to bring it about. Can Newsom get Californians excited enough to go out of their way to keep him?
The emergence of Elder as the leading candidate to replace Newsom should he fall, has changed the race in recent weeks. While it has ignited the GOP base and landed the conservative radio host plum bookings on television, it has also given Newsom a “bad guy” to run against. And that race within the race is starting to get heated. On Monday, a speaker at a Newsom event called Elder “a black face on white supremacy,” echoing a Los Angeles Times headline.
It’s one thing for an opinion column to paint Elder in such a light, but to have that sentiment shared at an official campaign event shows just how sharp the knives have gotten in the Newsom camp. At the very least Newsom sees Elder’s success as a chance to scare progressive Californians into voting, but it may also be that he has much to fear from the Republican’s rise.