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California recall election features an unqualified, unhinged cast of challengers

California’s complex recall process means a right-wing celebrity could take Gov. Gavin Newsom’s seat.
Photo illustration: Gavin Newsom, Larry Elder, John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (left) faces several Republican challengers in the state's recall election.Anjali Nair / MSNBC; Getty Images

Step up! Take your pick, California! If Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom fails to meet a 50 percent threshold in the California recall election, one of these eligible candidates could be your ticket to calamity!

The California recall process is complex, but in short: If Newsom falls short of 50 percent, the new governor will be the candidate with the next highest vote count. In this process, Republicans see a chance to install one of their own to institute conservative policies across the state.

Recent polling shows Republican Larry Elder as the leading candidate to become governor if Newsom is unable to meet the 50 percent threshold. Elder is a conservative commentator who gained popularity on the right because of his willingness to malign Black people.

Elder, who is Black, believes “Blacks are more racist than whites,” he has repeatedly spread white supremacist propaganda depicting Black people as hyperviolent, and he has called systemic racism a “con.” He has said “smart women” tolerate crude behavior from men in the workplace, and he has said he believes “women know less than men about political issues, economics and current events.” In August, he denied allegations published in Politico that he once pulled a gun on his then-fiancée in 2015.

Elder is also completely detached from reality with regard to Covid. Despite California recording a recent spike in the number of unvaccinated young people hospitalized with the coronavirus, he claimed science doesn’t suggest young people should get vaccinated or wear masks in school.

Elder is a mentor to Stephen Miller, the former Trump adviser who pushed for his administration to separate immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. And for what it’s worth, he’s also the former fake judge on the short-lived TV show “Moral Court.” (Seriously … Elder was very briefly allowed to judge other people’s morals and issue cash payments accordingly on television). He’s bad.

There are, of course, others who polling suggests are far less likely to win than Elder — but they could be catastrophic for California, as well.

There’s John Cox, the Republican real estate multimillionaire and multi-time failed political candidate. He opposes mask or vaccine requirements for California kids. He also supports loosening conservatorship laws to deal with California’s homeless, and he literally campaigned with a big ball of trash.

And there’s the far-less-likely-to-win Kevin Faulconer, a former Republican mayor of San Diego. He supported Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020, he opposes mask or vaccine requirements for anyone in California, and he supports Republican hysteria over racism-related education in schools.

Caitlyn Jenner is also running. Despite having the most name recognition of anyone in the race, polls suggest she is one of the least preferred candidates.

If Newsom fails to win in the recall, the Republican Party will have gained tremendous power and control over the nation’s most populous state — and its largest economy — at just about the worst time possible.

Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.