Larry Elder leads GOP field in race to replace Newsom in recall, poll finds

A man sits behind a radio microphone.
Radio talk show host Larry Elder is seen in his studio on July 12 in Burbank.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

A new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found that among the dozens of candidates in the running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder leads the race, with many voters still undecided.

The poll found that 47% of likely California voters supported recalling the Democratic governor, compared with 50% who opposed removing Newsom from office — a difference just shy of the survey’s margin of error.

Forty percent of likely voters remain undecided on a replacement candidate, providing ample opportunity for other gubernatorial hopefuls to rise in the ranks before the Sept. 14 special election.


The findings of the new poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and co-sponsored by the L.A. Times dispel the notion that California’s solid Democratic voter majority will provide an impenetrable shield for Newsom.

July 27, 2021

When asked to pick their first choice among the candidates hoping to take the helm as California’s next governor, 18% of likely voters preferred Elder.

Among other Republicans, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox, who was trounced by Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial election, both were backed by 10% of likely voters.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin received support from 5% of those surveyed.

Caitlyn Jenner, a retired gold-medal Olympian and the most famous candidate in the race, was backed by just 3% of likely voters. Jenner is currently in Australia filming a reality television show.

As the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom moves forward, candidates line up to replace him.

Sept. 7, 2021

Elder, a nationally syndicated conservative radio host, announced on his show July 12 that he was entering the race. He did not appear on the list of candidates who state election officials said had met the requirements to qualify for the ballot, but his campaign insisted that was an error that would be corrected. A judge ruled in his favor on July 21.


Elder, who calls himself “the Sage from South Central,” is a lawyer, documentary maker and writer who is well-known in GOP circles and frequently appears on Fox News.

The registered Republican, 69, contemplated challenging former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010 but did not run.