“In the void, there was a lot of discontent with Newsom and ambivalence towards him among Democrats,” said Rob Stutzman, Republican political consultant in California.
This began to change once “the abyss” had a name.
Mr. Elder isn’t the most Trumpi candidate imaginable, but he’s close. A novice activist with a background in conservative talk radio, Mr. Elder has a treasure chest full of embarrassing comments in his past – about women, about blacks – and a penchant for doing more on the stump.
“Larry Elder has been the gift that keeps on giving,” said Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political consultant in California.
Once again, Mr. Elder was effective because this race is so much more about fame than politics. But he is also effective because he, more than anyone, is listening to the Trumpist base and is ready to tack accordingly.
After coming under fire from the right for telling The Sacramento Bee editorial board that Joe Biden won the 2020 election, he reversed. He has repeatedly and wrongly claimed that the recall race is riddled with fraud. He crushes her among the “guys with an Uncle Sam costume in their closet,” but not much else.
Arguably, Mr. Elder is not a serious politician; he runs not to win, but to make himself known in the media. But that very fact says something about the Republican Party today. Many of its most prominent figures blur the line between politician and celebrity and act accordingly, even if their success as the latter undermines what we expect from the former. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn – and, yes, Larry Elder – are just nominally politicians. In essence, they are artists.
Certainly, these are artists saying creepy things about guns, political violence, the pandemic, and anyone to their political left. And it is true that some of them win the elections, usually in red districts. And it is true that many people in the Republican Party are much smarter, or at least more thoughtful about elected office, than they are.