Larry Elder, Gavin Newsom gear up for California recall battle


(LOS ANGELES) — There are still two days to go before California’s gubernatorial recall election, but the current governor’s team and his leading opponent, Larry Elder, have each already indicated they’re ready for legal challenges.

In a sit-down interview with ABC News’ Zohreen Shah on Saturday, Elder was asked repeatedly if he would accept the results of Tuesday’s election, but he avoided answering by conveying confidence in his ability to win.

“So many people are going to vote to have [Newsom] recalled, I’m not worried about fraud,” he said.

But Elder earlier this week made unsubstantiated claims of possible fraud at a campaign event, saying the recall could see similar “shenanigans” as many Republicans claimed happened in last year’s presidential election, despite no evidence of widespread election fraud.

Elder’s campaign has an election integrity section on his website, where voters can fill out a form to report alleged incidents of voter fraud and sign a petition to investigate the results of the recall.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign team said they were prepared for potential lawsuits but wouldn’t elaborate on specifics during a campaign stop Thursday.

In the interview with Shah, Elder also deflected questions about some of the controversial statements he’s made in the past, such as saying slave owners should get reparations.

“Cover what I said about the election,” he said. “The election is occurring because people are unhappy with how California is being governed the last two years.”

If he were to be elected, Elder already has his first order of business planned. “The first thing I’m going to do is repeal the requirement for state workers that they have to be tested once a week and they have to wear a mask,” he said. “I don’t think the science supports that.”

It’s the issues brought up by COVID-19 that previously plagued Newsom’s political career and now, in recent days, have bolstered it. The Public Policy Institute of California reported that 60% of respondents approve of the way Newsom has handled the pandemic in a survey released earlier this month.

Recent polling about the recall election looks promising for Newsom, as 56.2% of voters said they’ll vote to keep him, a 4% increase from last week’s reported polling average, according to FiveThirtyEight.

“Democrats didn’t even take it seriously until literally, I won’t even say a couple months ago, I’d say six or seven weeks ago,” Newsom told ABC News. “People started waking up to this reality, we’re closing that gap every single day. We’re going to pull this thing out.”

The boost comes as President Joe Biden is set to travel to California to campaign with Newsom on Monday as a final push to motivate voters.

But Newsom is facing new controversies in the final stretch. Actress Rose McGowan recently alleged Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, tried to bribe her against coming forward with her sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. A spokesperson for Siebel Newsom told ABC News the allegation “is a complete fabrication,” adding, “It’s disappointing but not surprising to see political opponents launch these false attacks just days before the election.”

McGowan will campaign with Elder on Sunday in Los Angeles.

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