SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- Larry Elder, the Republican frontrunner in the California gubernatorial recall election, blasted Gov. Gavin Newsom in a rapid-fire stump speech, going through a laundry list of issues, during an hourlong campaign stop at Calvary Chapel in San Jose Thursday.
"He shut down this state in the most severe way, more than any of the other 49 governors, while sitting up there at the French Laundry restaurant," said Elder, referring to a Nov. 2020 incident in which Newsom was photographed dining at the upscale Napa Valley restaurant while much of the state remained under lockdown.
Elder continued his criticism of Newsom on Prop. 47, approved by the voters, that reduced certain felonies to misdemeanors.
"The idea was that if you steal less than $950, it makes more sense for you to go into rehab than to go to jail. As a result, people are stealing $950 worth of stuff. They can do it every single day at every single store the worst that could happen to you, you get a ticket, you're a misdemeanor," Elder said.
Elder continued on about Newsom, regarding the $15 minimum wage and the shutdown of in-person schooling during the first year of the pandemic.
"The outrageous minimum wage has gone higher and higher and those who are hurt the most are unskilled people," Elder said. "The way he ignored science and denied kids an entire year of in-person education."
Elder, who maintains a loyal following as a conservative talk radio host, has raised $1.1 million for his recall campaign. Newsom has raised $9.9 million.
On Aug. 6, Newsom fired back at Elder for the first time publicly during a press conference in San Bernardino County but he did not mention his opponent by name.
"The principal proponent of the recall wants to microchip all immigrants. That's not me taking a cheap shot. That's his stated position," Newsom said. "... (a candidate) who believes the minimum wage should be zero. Who believes that women do not have the right to choose and wants to overturn Roe v. Wade; who believes we need more offshore oil drilling and fracking in the state of California; who believes not only in Trump but Trumpism and thinks Trump has been unfairly burdened with responsibility for the events on Jan. 6."
Elder's swing through San Jose came just as recall election ballots are being delivered to mailboxes across the South Bay.
The 46 challengers who qualified have been placed randomly on the ballot, which spans two pages.
"This will disadvantage, frankly, all those challengers in this instance because there are just too many people to look up," said San Francisco State University professor Joseph Tuman, a longtime political analyst.
The state Republican Party has not endorsed a single candidate, which has resulted in a large, disorganized and unfocused field of challengers, according to Tuman.
"When you've got 10, it's a non-starter. When you've got 20, it's definitely a non-starter. When you got 50 or 60, there is no chance that suddenly each voter is going to read every single profile. It just won't happen. People don't have, on the voter side, enough discipline to do that," said Tuman.
Tuman added that if Newsom stayed focused on "real problems" and the most pressing issues of the day -- COVID-19 in schools and wildfires -- the governor would likely prevail in the recall election.
"If it looks like the governor is making a good faith effort to deal with these situations, I think people will stay with him," Tuman said.
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