California Republicans are set to face a stinging defeat on Tuesday as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom appears on track to fend off a recall effort after Republicans failed to rally around an eligible candidate.
The campaign to start Mr Newsom began in earnest after the governor was surprised at a restaurant with a lobbyist friend without a mask while ordering restrictions in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. But conservative talk show host Larry Elder emerged at the front of a crowded pack, which some say killed any chance the Republicans would beat Mr. Newsom.
“Part of the challenge for Republicans for decades at this point is that none of them have a platform to create statewide name identification and recognition,” he said. said Jason Roe, a Republican consultant who previously worked for former Republican mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer.
Mr. Faulconer is one of the many contenders, but he struggled to gain ground like Mr. Elder.
Mr Roe said that a major difficulty for Republicans in the state is that they just aren’t that many, making it difficult to build broad name recognition and collect a treasure trove of war enough to run for a statewide job in California.
“For Kevin, it’s a tough job. Larry Elder has decades of experience on conservative talk radio, Republican activists know who he is, they know him, they at least know his name, ”Mr. Roe said. “It’s a conservative brand, so with the Republican base it’s a known commodity and it doesn’t take long for it to close the sale.”
But Mr. Elder’s appeal among Conservatives has often been limited outside of party supporters.
“He’s a guy who has a loyal following because of his years as a radio broadcaster,” said Andrew Acosta, a Democratic consultant in California. “In the old days, one or two of those shots would have knocked him out. “
Likewise, Mr Acosta said it was not clear Mr Faulconer would have increased the levels of money Mr Elder made, and noted how dedicated his supporters were.
“He’s a guy who has a loyal following because of his years as a talk radio and it’s been hard to get people rid of him,” Mr. Acosta said.
Garry South, a Democratic political consultant who worked for former Gov. Gray Davis, noted that Republicans were a smaller segment of the readership today than when Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated Mr Davis in his own recall election. , making the GOP effort a tough climb from the start. .
“Republicans can be so excited they all have high blood pressure,” said Mr. South, adding that no amount of Republican excitement could overcome the fact that Republicans make up only a quarter of the electorate. .
Mr. South added that the California GOP had made a strategic error in not endorsing Mr. Faulconer.
“They would have done better to bite the bullet, to support Faulconer, to put money behind him,” he said. “They basically chickened out.”
But Mike Madrid, who previously worked on Latino outreach for California Republicans and co-founded the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, said the state’s circumstances were also very different from the time of Mr. Schwarzenegger.
“But even then, Schwarzenegger was getting the majority of Latin American votes,” he said, adding that Mr. Davis’ approval levels were in the 1920s when Mr. ran a budget deficit. Comparatively, Mr. Newsom has a budget surplus.
“Gavin Newsom has never been near that range of support levels,” Madrid said, adding that he didn’t think the GOP was more about messaging than mounting a serious offer.
“This is a matter of just outrage,” he said. “He’s just trying to find a spokesperson for his anger.”
Mr Madrid stressed that Republicans were peddling ideas about voter fraud, which former President Donald Trump repeated on Monday.
“They can’t believe they’ve actually lost because they’re so busy consuming their own nonsense and withdrawing into themselves that they don’t try to talk beyond their base anymore,” he said. he declared.
On Monday, the day before the recall, as if to reinforce the point, Mr. Trump issued a statement denouncing the California election as rigged.
“Does anyone really believe that the recall election in California is not rigged,” Mr. Trump said. “Millions upon millions of mail-in ballots will make this giant election scam another scam, no different, but less blatant, than the presidential election scam of 2020!”
The Independent Gt