Newsom's anti-Trump recall strategy is a warning to Republicans in 2022

The recall does offer at least one lesson to Democrats in Washington ahead of next year’s midterm elections: The party’s pre-existing blue- and purple-state strategy of portraying Republicans as Trump-loving extremists can still prove effective with the former president out of office, at least when the strategy is executed with unrelenting discipline, an avalanche of money and an opponent who plays to type…

That’s to say that primaries matter — and if Republicans are to reclaim the Senate next year, party officials say, they will do so by elevating candidates who do not come with the bulging opposition research files of a 27-year veteran of right-wing radio.

“Larry Elder saved their lives on this,” Rob Stutzman, a Republican strategist in Sacramento, said of Democrats. “Until this race had a general election context, there was not a lot of enthusiasm for life in California. But when you have the near-perfect caricature of a MAGA candidate, well, you can turn your voters out.”

Gray Davis, the Democratic former California governor who was recalled in 2003, put it more pithily: “He was a gift from God,” he said of Mr. Elder. “He conducted his entire campaign as if the electorate was conservative Republicans.”