Larry Elder can't save California because nobody can

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

Tomorrow we will reach the end of the very long road of the California recall election. Unless the polls are wildly off track, it’s appearing increasingly likely that Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom will narrowly slip out of the trap and hang on as Governor for the rest of his term. It’s not that I’m writing off the possibility, mind you. The polls have been spectacularly wrong in the past, but all of the movement in the final week suggests that momentum has been slipping away from the recall effort and back toward Newsom’s corner. The remaining Republicans and conservatives in the Golden State will obviously be viewing this as a missed opportunity, but would that really be the case? We should ask ourselves what a best-case scenario would look like if the “YES” vote somehow prevails and Republican radio star (and Salem Media host) Larry Elder were installed in the governor’s mansion.

But before getting to that, let’s take a quick peek at how the race is finishing up. Things took on a bit of a personal note when Elder made an appearance with Hollywood actress Rose McGowan, who is endorsing him despite her previous history of liberal activism. She claims that Newsom and his wife tried to shut her up a few years ago when she tried to speak out about being raped by notorious pervert Harvey Weinstein. (Sacramento Bee)

Two days before the recall election, leading candidate Larry Elder appeared with an actress who says Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife tried to suppress her rape claims against disgraced director Harvey Weinstein.

The Democratic governor and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom responded that the charge was false.

Elder held a Los Angeles press conference with actress and activist Rose McGowan, who said Siebel Newsom contacted her in 2017 on behalf of David Boies, a lawyer for Weinstein, the director McGowan says raped her.

All politics aside, Ms. McGowan has my sympathies and I wish her the best. I don’t expect many people will be doubting the accusations of any female celebrities (or any other women for that matter) who come forward with accusations against Weinstein.

With that said, however, I don’t know how much value this adds to the recall effort or Elder’s position in the race if it succeeds. By this point, I’m confident that every persuadable Republican or conservative-leaning independent in the state has already been mobilized to vote. But from the beginning, we knew that the total number of people in that pool wasn’t going to be enough to put the recall vote over the top. Supporters of the effort were going to need to bring along a fair number of Democrats with them to make it over the hump. They’ve clearly persuaded some, but the polling suggests it simply wasn’t enough.

As for McGowan, had she simply come forward and said that she supported the recall effort and was unhappy with Newsom’s performance, I suppose it’s possible that she could have swayed a few more Democrats. But by declaring herself to no longer be a Democrat and endorsing Elder, she will now be viewed by the liberal Democrats in the state as a traitor to the cause and not worth consideration. And given her history of political activism, I doubt many of Elder’s supporters will be particularly swayed by her either.

But as I suggested above, I’m not sure any of this would really matter. Even if the polls are wrong and the recall squeaks over the finish line, putting Larry Elder into office, how much would things really change in California? Sure, I suppose he might block (or at least slow down) a few bits of the legislature’s liberal agenda. And I’m not saying that would be “nothing.” But aside from a few executive orders, he wouldn’t be changing the general course of the state’s legislative drift significantly. Also, the only reason he’s in the lead with a relatively small plurality is that the field is so fractured. In his first bid for a general election victory, the Democrats would almost certainly give him the boot.

So, in short, while I have all the respect in the world for Larry Elder and would love to see him ascend to office in this fashion (even for a little while), I do not for a moment believe that he would be able to “fix” or “save” California in any permanent fashion. The only people who can do that are the voters of the state agreeing in large numbers to do so. From the looks of things, they can’t even agree to take out someone as insulting and incompetent as Newsom. They keep sending the same pack of liberal Democrats back to the state legislature, to Congress, and to the governorship. And they repeat that performance year after year, even as the state becomes increasingly unaffordable to live in and crime continues to spread. They clearly can’t or won’t help themselves and nobody else can do it for them. Even a good man like Larry Elder can’t bail out a state like California as long as a majority of the voters there keep drilling holes in the boat.