RECALL POLITICS - Just four days before the polls close on the gubernatorial recall election, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder is presumably at the head of the pack of 46 vying for the governor’s office.
Should Gov. Newsom not edge past the majority threshold, Elder could potentially slide into office with a sliver of the state’s votes. This prospect has kept me up nights and I suspect I’m not alone.
The stakes are high and Elder is not the right guy for the job, an opinion he shared with his audience just this past February.
I’d love to serve. I hate to have to run. I just don’t believe I have the stomach, the temperament, the personality, the drive, the willingness to deal with the doofi [sic] in Sacramento for the next several years of my life...No, I’m not going to run. I would miss being on the radio, as well.
---Larry Elder, Larry Elder Show, February 4, 2021
If Donald Trump ran on his inexperienced outsider patina, spewing inflammatory notions for shock value, Elder doubles down. The self-proclaimed “libertarian” opposes gun control measures, reproductive rights, and public-school funding. He questions whether climate change has led to unprecedented deadly wildfires and has vowed to end vaccine and mask mandates.
Elder Against the ADA, Clean Air Act, and Equal Pay
Elder’s views have been consistent over the past decades, rallying against everything from wage and hour laws to the American Disabilities Act. Ten years after George W. signed the landmark act into law, Elder wrote the act was “an assault on private employers”. Also in 2010, he proposed the government should “repeal laws the violate the principles of federalism, such as wage and hour laws; federal minimum wage; the Clean Air Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; equal pay laws, the Davis-Bacon Act, mandating prevailing union wages for those working under federal contracts); and all federal anti-discrimination laws that apply to the private sector.”
Elder appears to have a particular vengeance against the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which he criticized on many of his radio shows and in various writings, characterizing the act as “hideous” and a “horrible intrusion on private business” that creates “dependency” and evades “our freedoms.” One must wonder what provoked such an extreme reaction to a law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. He was so appalled that President Bush signed the law in 1990 that he claimed he “felt double-crossed” as a voter.
Climate Change, Vaccines, and Science
For years, Larry Elder has characterized climate change as a “crock” and a “myth,” recently conceding although climate change exists, he is “not sure” it has anything to do with California’s devastating forest fires that have occurred over the past several years.
From the earliest days of the pandemic, Elder shared and broadcast the Trump/Republican mantra, minimizing COVID and scoffing at any attempts to control the pandemic. He opposes vaccine and mask mandates, promising to remove them if he takes office. Following the extremist party line, he believes they obstruct American freedom.
Elder and Women
In keeping with his employer-centric views, Elder has written that laws such as the mandatory Family and Medical Leave Act “increase the cost of hiring women, and the expense is passed on to the consumer.” He has also compared considering employee plans to raise children to “protecting an investment,” the same way professional sports contracts prohibit players from engaging in risky behaviors off the clock.
For Elder, sexual harassment in the workplace is a question of the free market, not requiring any workplace protections. In his 2001 book “The Ten Things You Can’t Say in America,” he wrote, “Smart women simply overlook some boorish behavior in men. Off-color jokes and stupid remarks may be irritating, but a smart woman deals with this.”
A decade later, Elder disclosed on his radio show that he had been accused of sexual harassment twice. He defended himself against the first accuser, a law firm employee in the 1980s, by implying she was not attractive enough for him to harass. “If you had seen her, you would know that the picture would be a complete defense. I’m just saying,” he commented. He threatened to sue a second accuser for defamation.
Unsurprisingly, Elder has defended former President Donald Trump’s inappropriate sexual comments and behaviors.
Elder’s stances toward women, as well as allegations of verbal and emotional abuse by a former fiancée, have elicited negative comments from other not only Democrats but also Republicans who share the ballot with him, including Kevin Faulconer and Caityln Jenner, who tweeted, “This is outrageous and speaks volumes about the type of person he is. We need to protect the privacy of all women, not abuse them. But it seems like Larry knows a lot about that.”
Last week, anti-choice activist Lila Rose endorsed Elder, claiming he had promised if elected to use his office to cut abortion funding, veto expansion and misinformation legislation, and appoint anti-reproductive rights judges. Elder has described himself as “pro-life, 100%.” In times when reproductive rights are under threat in numerous states, it’s especially important to pay attention.
Transgender Rights and Sex Education
Elder’s views are surprisingly extremist for California and contrary to state laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and Newsom. He opposes sex education in California public schools and the rights of transgender people to use the rest room of choice or compete on teams reflecting their identity. “Male athletes should not be competing against female athletes, and you ought not to be able to wake up one day and think you are female and use a female bathroom,” he has said.
One particular danger of installing someone like Elder would be his power to make judicial and other appointments, as well as to California’s regulatory commissions. He has pledged to replace Senator Dianne Feinstein if elected, which would change the majority in the Senate. In addition, he would model judicial appointments on originalists like Clarence Thomas and has said he would appoint to the state Board of Education “Somebody who has the same philosophy as former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.”
Like Trump, Elder has a habit of misrepresenting the truth. In fact, the Washington Post gave Elder Four Pinocchios in The Pinocchio Test.
Elder has a Trumpish knack for delivering false and misleading claims. But a candidate for governor of the largest state in the country should show a basic command of the facts on the 2020 election, the coronavirus pandemic, the California economy, and the science behind the state’s wildfires. He earns Four Pinocchios.
In addition to his extremist views, inflammatory rhetoric, and penchant for lies, Elder shares the Trump M.O. of avoiding tax disclosures. Elder provided partial returns and successfully challenged the state requirement to disclose income taxes. His eventually amended incomplete conflict-of-interest disclosures, which are under investigation by state campaign finance regulators. The amended disclosures show Elder received payments from The Epoch Times, described in an October 2020 New York Times article as “a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation.”
Also, like Trump, Elder has repeatedly suggested Dominon Voting Systems interfered with the 2020 election. CNN reported on September 8 that “Republican candidate Larry Elder told reporters on Wednesday that he believes ‘there might very well be shenanigans’ in the election to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, continuing the baseless GOP effort to undermine elections by suggesting wrongdoing.”
Elder: The Wrong Choice for California
As the most populous state in the country, California’s governor is a leader for both our state and a vanguard for the rest of the country, especially to address climate change and to the pandemic.
From his extremist libertarian views on wage and labor protections, public welfare programs and public schools, and state-funded health insurance, Elder is out-of-touch with the views of most Californians.
A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released Friday showed 60.1 percent of likely voters surveyed opposed recalling Gov. Newsom, with 38.5 percent in favor of the recall. Fewer than 2 percent were undecided or declined to answer. However, the best way to ensure a solid margin is to vote.
If you have not yet turned in your ballot, there’s still time to vote.
Return your vote-by-mail ballot by mail with prepaid postage, as long as it’s postmarked by September 14, 2021, or in-person to a secure ballot drop box, to a voting location or your county elections office by 8:00 p.m. on September 14, 2021.
In-person voting locations will offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance to those who need it.
For more information, visit the CA Secretary of State Elections website or the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website or the County Recorder site in your county.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a writer and a contributor to CityWatch.)