Who is Larry Elder and what would he do as governor?
By Ben Christopher, CalMatters
“The sage of the center-south. “Even more extreme than Trump.” The recall candidate to beat.
Larry Elder goes through a lot of labels these days. If he’s hard to pin down, it’s because he’s such an unlikely character: a black man who grew up in south-central Los Angeles, went to an Ivy League college, and became a provocative conservative.
In a state dominated by Democrats for 15 years, he would make an even more unlikely governor. As millions of Californians ponder what they are supposed to think of him when they vote in the Recall election on September 14, Elder sat down with CalMatters reporters and editors for an hour-long interview.
This conversation took place before Politico reported Thursday, on allegations by Elder’s ex-fiancée that he brandished a gun at her while under the influence of marijuana. The elder denied brandishing a gun, but did not respond to other claims: “I’m not going to honor this with an answer – it’s below me.”
CalMatters invited Governor Gavin Newsom and his main challengers to sit down and chat. Here are five highlights from the discussion with Elder:
‘I have no horns. I don’t have a tail.
Elder is particularly clear on this point: he believes he has gotten a rough deal from the “left-wing media” since he announced his campaign last month.
“I don’t have a tail, I don’t have horns,” he said, before noting that he also didn’t “club the seal pups and eat their heads.” While his opinions on labor policy, gender equality and race were characterized by the Newsom camp and even some Republican colleagues as an extreme, Elder says they’re rooted in common sense and economics 101.
In the latest in a series of stories uncovering controversial past comments, the two CNN and the Chronicle of San Francisco articles published Thursday documenting what he said about women.
He also mentioned that he wrote books and made documentaries. Despite their commercial success, he claims, they have been touched by the referees of merit and taste – newspaper book reviews and the Oscars.
“It’s just surprising that I got kicked out like that,” he said. “I come from the neighborhood. I should be a success story.
It is not that presenting oneself as a media target and fighting with journalists who seek fault does not have its political advantage. Just ask Donald Trump. For Elder supporters and many recall voters, the disapproval of the talkative classes can serve as its own approval.
‘I am a libertarian little-L’
This is the term used by Elder to describe his political platform. It’s a consistent line and one that he has been repeating for as long as he is a public figure.
“The biggest challenge in California in general is government intrusion,” he said. “I believe that a government that governs less governs better.”
Hence her views on minimum wage (there shouldn’t be any), prohibitions of discrimination in pregnancy in the workplace (leave it to the market), social assistance programs (this encourages “women to marry the government”), public schools (he prefers school vouchers), state-funded health insurance programs (“you have to have competition”) and recreational drugs (he supports the legalization).
“The only person I want to debate is Gavin Newsom”
Longtime conservative radio talk listeners and Fox News aficionados will know Elder for his more than 20 years of public opinion. But for many California voters, it remains relatively unknown.
Part of it was Elder. He has skipped three campaign debates so far, a strategy that has frustrated some GOP insiders. Elder insists it’s because he’s “not running against Republican rivals,” but against Newsom.
But debating also comes with the risk of making a blunder or suffering a sustained attack – a risk Elder apparently doesn’t believe he has to take.
“I have a substantial lead over my Republican rivals, which is one of the reasons they want to debate me,” he said. “If I was sitting at 2% in the polls, I would also debate myself.”
“The term is illegal alien”
Elder’s years in the media have given him the gift of speaking politics in a way that attracts an audience, but also sometimes ignites.
So, yes, he opposes California the recent expansion of Medi-Cal, the public health insurance program for low-income people, to undocumented immigrants. And no, he will not use the term “undocumented immigrant”.
Likewise, climate change activists and environmentalists are “environmental extremists,” reformist prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco are “crime lenient”, and the safety net programs put in place by Democrats represent ” an attack on the nuclear family ”.
“Someone like Clarence Thomas”
One of the most powerful political levers of a governor is his or her ability to appoint – to the judiciary, to vacant constitutional positions, and to the many regulatory commissions in the state.
While Elder doesn’t have a shortlist of names for any of these possible nominations, he does take inspiration from Washington, DC When selecting a judge or judge, he would model his selection on self-proclaimed originals like Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia. .
What about the State Board of Education? “Someone who has the same philosophy as the former Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos,” he said.
But there was one former DC big-headed Elder was not inclined to talk: Stephen Miller, the former Trump adviser, whose early start as a right-wing provocateur started on the Elder show.
“Why would you want to bring up Stephen Miller? Elder asked, repeatedly. “I’m just wondering what the agenda is here. What’s the point? Am I somehow – what – a Nazi? A fascist?
This article was originally published by CalMatters.
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