Leading Republican gubernatorial candidate speaks at courthouse
Larry Elder, the popular talk show host and the leading Republican candidate in the recall election, spoke to a crowd gathered in the Sunken Gardens on Wednesday to promote his campaign on the South Coast in the final days leading up to the election.
Mr. Elder was greeted by chants of “Larry, Larry” as he descended down a side staircase of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon, escorted by deputies from the Sheriff’s Office and former county supervisor Mike Stoker.
“Say hello to the black face of white supremacy,” Mr. Elder said in his opening remarks, making reference to a Los Angeles Times column that gave him this title. He faced a crowd of hundreds of Santa Barbarians, most of whom came out to show support for the recall, though some wandered through the crowd with signs that encouraged folks to vote “no” to the recall.
Across the street from the courthouse, a crowd gathered together holding signs that rejected the recall effort, encouraging passersby to keep Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in his position of power.
During his remarks, Mr. Elder covered various state issues that he promised to resolve if he were elected, covering topics like schools, crime, homelessness, water resources and the COVID-19 pandemic.
He repeatedly slammed Gov. Newsom for many of his policies, including his stance on crime, homelessness and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have an arrogant governor who has shut down the state in a more severe way than did all of the other 49 governors,” Mr. Elder said. “Sitting up there at the French Laundry restaurant with the very people that drafted the mandates that they were violating. They were not wearing masks. They were not engaging in social distancing.”
“His own kids were enjoying in-person private education while denying us the right to have our kids enjoy in-person public education,” he added.
If elected, Mr. Elder said he would repeal the governor’s existing mandate that requires all state workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing. He told the crowd that he chose to get the vaccine, and he believes others should have the choice to make their own decisions about health.
This was the first of multiple campaign promises the candidate made Wednesday, announcing to the crowd his plans for reforming the state’s homeless response.
He told the crowd that he plans to partner with nonprofits, churches and community activists to get mentally ill homeless individuals off the streets and into treatment. Then he said he would utilize land owned by the state to build homes for unhoused individuals to live in following release from treatment.
He also promised to build up the state’s water infrastructure using desalination techniques, lower state income taxes and reverse course on many of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts towards cleaner energy, which Mr. Elder called a “war on the working class.”
Mr. Elder also told the crowd about his stance on systemic racism during the rally Wednesday, saying he believes it is all a “lie” propagated by Democrats. He discussed statistics about how many black children grow up with a father in the house, asserting that the absence of a father is the reason for higher incarceration rates and crime among minorities.
“I submit to you that systemic is not the problem in critical race theory, and reparations are not the answer,” Mr. Elder said. “Racism has never been less significant in America, and it is a defamation to say otherwise.”
The candidate’s controversial stance on racism, in addition to his recent announcement that he would roll back abortion funding and his resurfacing comments about women in the workplace made in the early 2000s, has drawn scrutiny from his opponents in the weeks leading up to the election.
In recent weeks, allegations of alleged sexual harassment on Mr. Elder’s part began surfacing in national reports. This led former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and reality star Caitlyn Jenner called on Mr. Elder to bow out of the race, saying his past comments could be a liability for the other candidates in the race to oust Gov. Newsom.
Last week, CNN uncovered a past recording of Mr. Elder’s talk show where he admitted to having two allegations of sexual harassment brought against him, though he has repeatedly denied these claims. In one instance, he allegedly said in one of his radio shows that one woman alleging harassment was too unattractive for him to assault, and the other woman claimed he had pressured a talk show guest to show her his butt tattoo.
In response to these claims, Mr. Elder told CNN that he had “never been accused of sexual harassment” and has “great respect for women.”
But despite Mr. Elder’s denial of past allegations, some of Mr. Elder’s opponents on the local level say the candidate’s past and his views do not align with the state’s direction.
Darcel Elliott, the county’s Democratic Party chairwoman, told the News-Press on Wednesday that Mr. Elder is one of “the most anti-women candidates on the ballot,” adding that a Republican with Mr. Elder’s “extreme views” would not be a good fit for a majority-Democrat state like California.
“I think just in general any Republican is not really suited to represent California well,” Ms. Elliott said. “California is overwhelmingly a Democratic state, with every single state elected officer a Democrat and 75% of the legislature is Democratic.”
“Larry Elder is more extreme than even most Republicans,” she continued. “The Republican Party is at a crossroads with where they want to go — if they want to stir more into the Trump world or if they want to move toward a traditional Republican view. Larry Elder is more in the extreme category. Any Republican would not be a good governor for California and most of the people who live here, but Larry Elder is one the more extreme choices.”
If Mr. Elder is elected, Ms. Elliott said the state would enter “14 months of chaos” until next year’s regular election.
Members of the county’s Republican Party, however, have taken a very different stance on Mr. Elder’s campaign.
Bobbi McGinnis, the county’s Republican chairwoman, said Mr. Elder is the “man of the hour” in the recall effort, adding that he is more fit to run the state than Gov. Newsom.
“Gavin Newsom was born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” Ms. McGinnis said. “He has never ever been in touch with the common man or the common people. Larry Elder was born in South Central L.A. He went to Crenshaw High School … He has gone to college. He lifted himself up by his bootstraps and became a lawyer. And then he runs a wonderful radio show.
“So that’s the kind of man we need to lead — a man who has lived the journey, lived the American dream.”
The final day to vote in the recall election is Sept. 14.