Larry Elder won’t seek rematch against Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2022 race

Larry Elder, standing, speaks into a handheld microphone.
Conservative talk show host Larry Elder said he will not challenge Gov. Gavin Newsom in the 2022 gubernatorial election.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who topped the field of candidates trying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in September’s failed recall, on Tuesday announced he would not run in California’s 2022 gubernatorial election.

Elder, a Los Angeles native, said that he had instead formed a political action committee, Elder for America PAC, to help Republicans running for the Senate and House of Representatives put Congress back in GOP control. The committee also will support some local candidates focused on public safety and education.

“Today, we don’t just have a state to save, we have a country save,” Elder said in a statement released on Tuesday. “The radical left’s woke agenda is destroying America. Our major cities look like warzones thanks to ‘progressive’ district attorneys and other pro-criminal policies. The distinction in quality of life between areas controlled by leftists and those that are not highlights the failure of the woke movement.”


After the recall failed, Elder told supporters he would consider challenging the governor’s reelection, saying they should “stay tuned.”

Other top Republicans who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Newsom in the recall, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox, also said they would assess whether to go after Newsom once again. Neither has launched an active campaign, and the primary is just over six months away.

Elder in early December hinted that he would likely forgo the governor’s race, telling The Times he wasn’t sure “it made a whole lot of sense” given the dominance of the Democratic Party in California. Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in California by nearly 2 to 1, and most independent voters, who account for nearly a quarter of the electorate, tend to vote Democratic.

During the recall, Newsom portrayed the campaign to oust the governor as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right anti-vaccination activists. He attacked Elder for being a political ally of former President Trump, and for Elder’s opposition to abortion rights and COVID-19 vaccination and mask mandates.

Elder topped the field of replacement candidates in the recall with 48.4% of the vote, far ahead of the pack. Still, 42% of the voters who cast ballots left blank the question of who should replace Newsom.

Democratic YouTube personality Kevin Paffrath and Faulconer received 9.6% and 8%, respectively. Cox, who was trounced by Newsom in the 2018 governor’s race, received 4.1% of the vote, and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) won 3.5%.

Among the more than 8.4 million Californians who voted in September, 61.9% favored keeping Newsom in office and 38.1% supported ousting him.

Elder said last month that he would write a book about his experiences during the recall attempt.