- The Washington Times
Monday, August 16, 2021

The Southern California News Group, whose properties include two of the state’s biggest newspapers, has thrown its support behind Republican recall frontrunner Larry Elder as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom struggles to gain separation in the Sept. 14 special election.

All 11 SCNG daily newspapers ran identical online editorials Sunday endorsing both the recall and Mr. Elder, including the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise, respectively the state’s sixth- and ninth-largest newspapers.

The editorial called Mr. Elder the “best choice” and compared him to former California GOP Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan.

“Elder does not come from a traditional political background, but like Schwarzenegger and former Gov. Ronald Reagan he understands the core challenges that California faces and has a knack for explaining issues in a way that can resonate with the general public,” said the staff editorial.

The chain’s endorsement comes as a boost to Mr. Elder and a setback for Mr. Newsom, who has been unable so far to put the recall threat behind him despite his enormous fundraising advantage and the full-throttle support of California’s powerful Democratic Party machine.

A CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday found that 48% of likely voters back the recall and 52% oppose it, a result within the survey’s margin of error and nearly identical to the July 27 UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies’ 47-50% divide.

The CBS poll conducted Aug. 6-12 also found Republicans winning the enthusiasm race, with 78% saying they would definitely vote and 72% saying they were “very motivated to vote,” versus 73% and 61% for Democrats.

The two-question recall ballot, scheduled to be mailed to all registered voters as of Monday, asks voters first whether they support ousting Mr. Newsom, and then which of the 46 recall candidates they favor to replace him if the first question passes.

The SCNG editorial criticized Mr. Newsom‘s handling of a host of issues, including wildfires, homelessness, crime, housing costs, and the estimated $31 billion in unemployment fraud during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Pick an issue and the state’s failures are obvious,” the editorial said.

The chain-largest OC Register trends rightward but not monolithically so. The newspaper has endorsed a host of Democrats in recent years, including Attorney General Xavier Becerra in 2018, and gave no endorsement in the 2016 presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The editorial said Mr. Elder‘s “liberty-oriented instincts and gift for gab appeal to us given the short timeframe to the next gubernatorial election” in November 2022.

“We’re not thrilled with everything he has ever said on his show, but we see no signs that he‘s treating his campaign as a publicity stunt,” said the editorial. “He has assembled a serious campaign and impressed us in our recent interview with his thoughtful answers, depth of policy understanding and compassion for the people he seeks to represent.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times, the state’s biggest newspaper, sounded the recall alarm in its Friday endorsement of Mr. Newsom headlined “Wake up, California! Removing Gavin Newsom would be a disaster.”

Newsom, who is 53 years old and 2½ years into his first term as governor, hasn’t been perfect — but show us a governor who has,” said the editorial for the dependably progressive newspaper.

In addition, “Newsom‘s missteps are minor when compared to the good he has done for California as one of the nation’s strongest leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Times said.

The UC Berkeley poll found Mr. Elder leading the recall pack with 18% support, followed by Republican businessman John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer with 10% each.

The other nine SCNG daily newspapers are the Los Angeles Daily News, the Whittier Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the Torrance Daily Breeze, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the [San Bernardino] Sun, and the Redlands Daily Facts.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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