LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder announced Tuesday he is forming a political committee to raise funds for House and Senate contests and will bypass a possible rematch with Gov. Gavin Newsom this year.
The nationally syndicated talk radio host emerged last year as the GOP's star candidate in the failed recall election that sought to remove Newsom from office. Since that time, there has been widespread speculation about his political future and Elder had been coy about potentially launching another campaign to oust Newsom, who is seeking a second term this year.
In a statement, Elder pointedly left open the possibility of a future state or national campaign. While skipping a rematch with Newsom, his Elder for America PAC will give him a platform to remain politically visible while channeling funds to House and Senate candidates around the country, a familiar strategy for potential future candidates looking to build up their name recognition and connections.
"While I may not know what the future holds for me politically, our campaign's ability to attract millions of votes and millions of dollars in a very short time demonstrates we have a message that resonates with Americans, and I believe we can put that to good use," Elder said.
While bypassing another run against Newsom, he said he was "determined to fight for important issues in places where we can make a real difference."
"The radical left's woke agenda is destroying America," he said. "At the federal level, Democrat leadership is hell bent on ruining the economy, either through massive inflation or draconian mandates for workers and employers."
His decision to avoid another showdown with Newsom was not surprising, given California's strong Democratic tilt. Republicans have not won a statewide race in the state since 2006, and Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1.
An unusual set of circumstances conspired last year to leave Newsom imperiled in the recall, including public angst over long-shuttered schools and businesses during the pandemic, a massive unemployment benefits fraud scandal and fallout from the disclosure that he attended a birthday party with friends and lobbyists at an opulent restaurant while telling state residents to spurn social gatherings and stay home for safety.
In the end, Newsom comfortably beat back the recall drive. Elder easily finished first among potential replacement candidates, carrying nearly half the vote, though the tally among replacement candidates was rendered irrelevant after the recall failed.
Elder, 69, who could have become the state's first Black governor, outshined his GOP rivals in the recall by hewing to a conservative-libertarian message that was an uneasy fit with many of the state's moderate and liberal voters.
He's a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, a reviled figure in California outside his conservative base. Elder is critical of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion and supports expanding oil extraction, positions out of step with a majority of voters in the state. He has spoken in opposition to the minimum wage, and is critical of gun control.
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