Gov. Gavin Newsom made some mistakes in office, but he’s nonetheless the only candidate in the recall election who represents California’s values.<ins> (Jim Wilson/New York Times)</ins>

Gov. Gavin Newsom made some mistakes in office, but he’s nonetheless the only candidate in the recall election who represents California’s values. (Jim Wilson/New York Times)

Editorial: Don’t let Donald Trump win in California

‘Californians can’t risk such disaster. They should vote ‘no’ on the recall ballot’s first question.’

If you think Donald Trump did a great job as president, it’s understandable why you might support California’s gubernatorial recall campaign. If you don’t support Trump, however, then there’s only one choice in the recall election on Sept. 14: Vote “no.”

Just as a vast majority of Californians rejected Trumpism, California voters must reject the recall. Unfortunately, polls show a tight race. This is likely due to the fact that, in an off-year special election, few voters are paying close attention to state politics. The highly motivated voters are the vocal Republican minority with no chance of winning statewide office under normal circumstances.

The result: California Democrats find themselves scrambling to save Gov. Gavin Newsom. It’s a humbling predicament for Newsom, but this recall is about something bigger and more important than one politician’s career.

On Sept. 14, California voters will decide the future of the state. Will they unseat a Democratic governor to install an anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science Trump wannabe in Sacramento? Will they turn their backs on workers’ rights, climate action, racial justice and equality? Will they choose a new anti-mask, anti-vaccine governor even as the COVID delta variant surges?

It seems unthinkable that a Trump Republican could become governor in a state where only 24% of voters identify as Republicans and where Newsom won with 62% of the vote in 2018. But Trump’s 2016 campaign also seemed like a longshot joke — and few Californians were laughing on election night.

Californians can’t risk such disaster. They should vote “no” on the recall ballot’s first question.

There’s debate over how Californians should respond to the second question, which asks voters to pick a candidate to replace Newsom if the recall succeeds. The governor’s campaign has urged voters to leave the second question blank. Others say voters should pick a “least bad” option just in case (by law, Newsom cannot appear as a candidate to replace himself in the recall).

If you’re considering a “strategic” vote for one of the mini-Trumps, here’s information on some of the frontrunners:

John Cox:

Cox, a perennial candidate, said he was “proud” to receive Trump’s support for his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Newsom beat him by 24 points. Lately, Cox is known for traveling the state accompanied by either a giant ball of trash or a 1,000-pound Kodiak bear. Want a proven loser? Cox is a safe bet.

Larry Elder:

Victory for Elder, a venomous pro-Trump radio host, would be the worst-case scenario. He’s a Black anti-immigrant crusader influenced by Jared Taylor, “a leading white supremacist,” reports Jean Guerrero of the Los Angeles Times.

“Last year, he shared a graphic with so-called facts depicting Black people as murderous, echoing similar claims he’s made on air for decades,” wrote Guerrero.

Elder also has a low opinion of women. He believes women are not as smart as men and thinks women who plan to become mothers should be subject to employer discrimination.

On Thursday, Elder’s former fiancé broke a nondisclosure agreement and went public with claims that he brandished a gun during an argument with her in 2015. Elder’s ex, Alexandra Datig, “portrayed him as a marijuana user who would often become threatening or insistent with her, including in his repeated demands that she get a ‘Larry’s Girl’ tattoo to show her devotion to him,” wrote Carla Marinucci of Politico.

Elder is currently ducking debates and most interviews.

Kevin Faulconer: This former San Diego mayor seems like a moderate, but don’t be fooled. He’s one of those odd characters who publicly opposed Trump in 2016 – saying “I could never support him” – but morphed into a full-on Trump voter in 2020.

“I thought he was going to be the best for the economy,” he told George Skelton of the LA Times.

The editorial board of the San Diego Union Tribune gave Faulconer a final grade of C- as mayor (after awarding him a D- in 2018). It wrote that “…in major ways, he mismanaged the mayor’s office as never before” and hammered Faulconer for a bungled $127 million real estate deal it called “a fiasco for the ages.”

If you want “moderate” Republican incompetence with Trumpy vibes, Faulconer’s your guy.

Caitlyn Jenner: She received tons of press early on, but it failed to translate into political support from a GOP base that generally despises LGBTQ people. When she’s not in Australia filming “Celebrity Big Brother,” she pretends to run for governor while ducking press interviews and hawking $100 T-shirts. If you think empty-headed celebrities deserve to run the world, Caitlyn – who has pledged to support Trump if he runs again – has you covered.

None of these characters would be an improvement over Newsom — and none of them deserves your vote. The same goes for the dozens of other attention-starved cranks on the ballot.

Gov. Newsom has made some mistakes, and voters should hold him accountable, but next year’s general election is the proper venue for such judgment. Newsom isn’t perfect, but he’s the only candidate capable of upholding California’s values.

He has pushed for police reform, expanded anti-poverty programs and expanded early childhood education. He has pledged to ban fracking and wean California of fossil fuels in response to climate change. He’s spending billions of dollars to get homeless people into shelter and expand Medicaid for undocumented immigrants. He supports racial justice, women’s rights and LGBT equality.

If we replace this Democratic governor with a Trump Republican, we won’t be punishing him. We’ll be punishing ourselves. That’s why Californians must vote no to defeat this Republican recall.

Publisher’s note: Gil Duran, our new editorial page editor, comes to The Examiner with a wealth of experience, including directing the editorial pages of the Sacramento Bee. Duran begins working at The Examiner on Sept. 7. However, we asked him to write an editorial about the gubernatorial recall now because the issue is of such importance to California. We hope this editorial is a call to action for you, our readers, to vote no on the recall. And we hope you enjoy the evolution of The Examiner as our editors and writers return this storied title to top of California journalism.

How to vote

The state has distributed mail-in ballots to all registered voters for the recall election. Please fill out your ballot and return it (by mail or at a drop-off site) as soon as possible.

All ballots must be postmarked or returned by Sept. 14. Voters also may choose to vote in-person on Sept. 14.

To check the status of your ballot, visit

To check your voter registration status, visit

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