Fahrenthold: Larry Elder’s strategy in California recall likely a ‘recipe for failure’

Sep 14, 2021, 10:35 AM | Updated: Sep 22, 2021, 10:47 pm
California recall...
A supporter holds a sign near the U.S. and California state flags as California Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Biden campaign to keep the governor in office. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Election Day in California is Tuesday, when residents will vote whether or not to recall Governor Gavin Newsom.

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As KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross pointed out, it seems Democrats are basically trying to link every Republican they can with Trump. And that’s certainly in play in California with gubernatorial challenger Larry Elder. But will that strategy work?

“It’s definitely working in California,” said David Fahrenthold, Washington Post reporter. “Obviously today’s the election day, but the latest polls have shown that Newsom, who was kind of neck and neck with recall back a month ago, is now favored to win.”

“The interesting thing about the California is not just that Newsom is trying to tie his opponent to Trump, which is sort of expected, is that the opponent has ended up tying himself to Trump,” he added.

Fahrenthold explains that Larry Elder started out, he thinks, as more of an independent-thinking libertarian, not strongly attached to the Republican Party.

“But in trying to woo the Republican electorate, all they ask him about is Trump’s stuff and he’s kind of gone further and further toward Trump,” Fahrenthold said. “He started talking about a rigged election in 2020, when previously he said it was not rigged. He started talking about how this election is rigged already. He started embracing all these Trump talking points because that’s what Republican interviewers and Republican voters ask him about.”

“And so if that’s what happens in 2022, it’s going to be hard for people in states that are purple, or blue like California, to run away from Trump if their own voters demand that they sort of visibly and vocally support Trump,” he added.

What’s unclear, however, is how powerful Trump remains and if it’s true that no Republican can afford to say he was wrong about anything.

“This recipe that [Elder] took in California was a recipe for failure because California is a very blue state,” Fahrenthold said. “It would be interesting to see if somebody like him had done the Arnold Schwarzenegger thing and said like, ‘I’m conservative, but I’m my own man, I’m my own person. I’m not a Donald Trump acolyte.’ Try to aim at the middle in California, which might have worked.”

“We don’t have a good experiment because Elder took the other path,” he added.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Fahrenthold: Larry Elder’s strategy in California recall likely a ‘recipe for failure’