On Saturday morning, California Republican Party delegates opted to withhold an endorsement in the upcoming special recall election set for September 14 when Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom could be ousted from office.
Officials said the decision was made “with nearly 90 percent support” during a virtual meeting the day after two influential California Republicans reportedly encouraged members of the state GOP not to endorse a candidate.
The four Republican contenders who qualified for endorsement consideration were conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, and former U.S. Congressman Doug Ose.
That's a last minute win for former SD mayor @Kevin_Faulconer — whose campaign being threatened by the surge of @LarryElder…he strongly supported an endorsement, and flipped this morning — just sidestepped what could have been a grassroots party nod to the talk show host.. https://t.co/MI2zcJeQyu
— Carla Marinucci (@cmarinucci) August 7, 2021
According to The Associated Press, Republican National Committee members Harmeet Dhillon and Shawn Steel told party delegates in an email dated Friday, “The polls are showing that the recall is in a statistical tie and we cannot afford to discourage voters who are passionate about a particular candidate, yet may not vote because their favored candidate didn’t receive the endorsement.”
Both Dhillon and Steel put forward the motion to table the agenda item to endorse a candidate so none would be issued.
“Any of our GOP candidates would be superior to Gavin Newsom,” the email continued. “We believe that the voters should decide his replacement, which will not only ensure a higher turnout of recall proponents but give Newsom’s successor the best chance of reelection in 2022.”
California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan released a statement shortly after the delegates voted.
“Today’s overwhelming decision by our delegates to offer no endorsement speaks to the strength of our field of candidates and the outstanding position our party is in going into the recall election,” Millan said. “We are squarely focused on putting California back on track by recalling the worst governor in California history. Gavin Newsom is arrogant, incompetent and a desperate politician who has failed Californians in every way possible.”
The September 14 ballot will ask California voters two questions. First, voters will decide whether Newsom should be recalled. Then, the second question asks who should replace Newsom if he is recalled. If more than 50% choose to recall Newsom on question one, then the top vote-getter on the second question would become the new governor.
“The state is burning, crime is spiking, homelessness is rampant, students have fallen behind, and taxes are suffocating working people,” said Millan. “On September 14th, voters will end the Newsom nightmare once and for all and finally restore good governing to California.”
Hon. Fred M. Whitaker, Chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, also commended the decision, calling Newsom “the most corrupt and ineffective Governor in our state’s history.”
“The Republican Party is blessed with an abundance of well qualified and principally sound candidates and we will let the voters decide who they believe is the best person for the job,” Whitaker said. “Because no qualified, serious Democrat will be on the ballot, the delegates have determined that the threat of ‘splitting the Republican vote’ is a non-factor.”
The Los Angeles County Democratic Party appeared to mock the process on social media, posting, “There’s a reason CA Republicans can’t endorse a candidate…the options they have are terrible.”
More details from The Sacramento Bee:
A party endorsement would have given the chosen candidate the resources and infrastructure to support their campaign in the coming weeks. But it also would have given some voters a reason not to show up, delegates said…
Some delegates, like Reform California chair Carl DeMaio, have been skeptical of the party’s endorsement process for months. Tensions flared in February over how to go about endorsing someone, with worries that the decision would fall to only a handful of party insiders.
In July, party leaders voted to create a process that would allow delegates to endorse a candidate, if he or she won at least 60% of the votes.
Former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and businessman John Cox, who were not eligible for the Party’s endorsement, are also notable Republicans in the race.
Before the vote on Saturday morning, Jenner tweeted: “The republican party @CAGOP should not be endorsing – we are all on the same team – we want corrupt #newsom out of office.”
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) August 7, 2021
Multiple polls indicate growing support to recall Newsom and show Elder as the leading candidate to replace him.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, a new poll released this week from SurveyUSA and the San Diego Union-Tribune showed 51% of likely voters would support recalling Newsom. However, 40% said they wanted Newsom to remain in office. Elder led all Republican contenders with 23% support.
The latest Emerson College and Nexstar Media “Inside California Politics” poll released on Tuesday found “voters remain split, with 46% in favor and 48% against the recall of Gov. Newsom. Six percent of likely voters are still undecided.” The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.
Would you vote to recall, or to keep Governor Newsom?
— Emerson College Polling (@EmersonPolling) August 3, 2021
Elder leads the list of more than 40 candidates on the ballot to replace Newsom with 23% support, up seven percentage points since the previous Emerson/Nexstar survey last month. All of the other candidates were in the single digits. However, pollsters emphasized that 40% of respondents were unsure which candidate they would choose.
Another recent poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times that found 47% of likely voters in the state support removing Newsom, while 50% oppose the move – “a difference just shy of the survey’s margin of error,” the Times noted. 18% of likely voters said Elder was their first choice to take over for Newsom.
Elder, who entered the race last month, said he raised nearly $4.5 million in the first 19 days of his campaign. That total included contributions from July 12, the day he announced his candidacy, through the end of the latest reporting period on July 31.
According to Politico, “In mere weeks, his total eclipsed what fellow Republicans had raised in months, and daily filings show Elder has pulled in another $440,000 in the first few days of August.”