Fellow Patriot: The voluntary financial generosity of supporters like you keeps our hard-hitting analysis coming. Please support the 2021 Year-End Campaign today. Thank you for your support! —Nate Jackson, Managing Editor

Thomas Gallatin / August 17, 2021

Could California Elect a Conservative Governor?

New polls indicate Gavin Newsom’s recall is a toss-up, with Larry Elder leading the opposition.

On (or before) September 14, Californians will vote on whether to recall Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom. If they do so, they will at the same time register a vote for the candidate they choose to succeed him. Leading the group of Republicans vying to replace Newsom is longtime conservative talk-radio host and syndicated columnist Larry Elder, who quickly surged to the front of the field after throwing his hat into the ring.

In leftist California, the notion that a conservative could actually win a gubernatorial election is nearly inconceivable. Yet, given the fact that this is not a normal election, there’s a real possibility that a Republican could become the Golden State’s next governor. In fact, this would be the second time such a scenario played out, as Democrat Governor Gray Davis was similarly recalled in 2003 and replaced with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

One indicator that Newsom’s survival is no sure bet is his decision to suddenly go on the offensive targeting Elder. “He’s to the right of Donald Trump,” Newsom asserted. “To the right of Donald Trump. That’s what’s at stake in the election and don’t think for a second you can’t do damage in that role. Think about the judges he could appoint. Who would he have appointed to replace Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate? How would that impact the trajectory of this country. What would this mean for the future of the Democratic Party in our efforts to keep the House of Representatives?”

The polling explains why he attacked. Even though Newsom, the former mayor of San Fransisco and lieutenant governor, won the 2018 election with a commanding 62% of the vote, those positive vibes have clearly mellowed. Earlier in the spring, polls indicated that Newsom had little to worry about, as a majority of voters rejected a recall. However, over the last month, that comfortable position has entirely evaporated. Recent polling shows his favorability sinking to 46%.

It certainly wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Californians aren’t happy with several significant and vexing problems, such as the state’s growing homelessness problem, a rising crime rate, and onerous zoning restricts that have made the construction of affordable housing nearly impossible. Then there are the environmental regulations that, ironically, have only made things environmentally worse. California is suffering through yet another massive wildfire season, exacerbated by poor forest management and an outdated electrical grid. Last but not least is Newsom’s heavy-handed COVID response combined with his own hypocrisy. Last November, he was caught at the high-end French Laundry restaurant in clear violation of his own mandated regulations on masks and social distancing. Yet he proceeded to keep his state locked down into this summer.

Back in 2003, when Californians recalled Davis, Schwarzenegger was able to take over the governor’s mansion despite winning just 48.6% of the vote. Of course, Schwarzenegger was a Hollywood mega star who was at best a center-left Republican. Elder is a principled conservative with star power, but that popularity is primarily limited to conservative circles.

Nevertheless, Democrats may find themselves in a bit of a pickle, as no prominent Democrats are running. And even if they were, any attempt to support them would be perceived as favoring a recall. Therefore, should the vote go against Newsom, let’s just say the prospect of another Democrat replacing him appears highly unlikely.

Fortunately for Newsom, his ace in the hole is California’s mail-in balloting — every registered voter will be sent a ballot in the coming days. This works heavily in Newsom’s favor because voters won’t have to bother with going to a polling station to cast their vote. Looking to the future, though, even if Newsom survives a recall, this fiasco has damaged his reelection chances in 2022.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.