Opinion: Does Larry Elder remind us of a certain ex-president?

A man in a suit and red tie stands next to a man, left, taking their picture with a phone near a Recall Gavin Newsom sign.
Gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder poses for a selfie with a supporter at a campaign stop in Norwalk on July 13, 2021.
(Associated Press)

Tell me where you’ve heard this before: A conservative media creature with a past lacking in governing experience but not in problematic racial pronouncements emerges from a field of boilerplate Republicans to threaten the political future of an indisputably more experienced Democrat. His insurgent candidacy draws alarm from commentators, the hopes of an agitated, far-right minority, and wishes by some opponents that the media would simply pay him less attention.

Right now, Larry Elder is the second-most likely person in California to be governor of this state at the end of October. As with a certain fellow reality TV star-turned-politician before him (anyone remember “Moral Court”?), Elder’s candidacy is drawing the bulk of our readers’ commentary about the election, a fact that those who read our letters page probably already gleaned.

Whether this narrative arc ends in California on Sept. 14 as it did for the nation on Nov. 8, 2016, remains to be seen.



To the editor: Erika D. Smith’s column on the messages she’s received from Elder’s supporters revealed a lot.

Elder’s voters are souls who desperately want to believe it is justifiable to ignore generations of laws, policies and practices — legal and illegal — on exploitation and oppression of Black, Latino and Asian people. Despite evidence from housing, employment, education, justice, health and other aspects of society, Elder and his supporters ignore all that.

The ugly remarks sent to Smith are from people who feel threatened by those who pull off the scab of lies that cover up U.S. cultural myths such as exceptionalism, manifest destiny and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

I enjoy Smith’s columns, which focus on the human beings affected by the large issues challenging all of us.

Jo Ann Dawson, Northridge


To the editor: I have to sigh at the willful ignorance of some of Smith’s readers who agree with Elder that there is no systemic racism.

I was a medical-legal transcriber when one of my clients attended a seminar on buying and managing investment properties. The client sent me tapes of his notes, which included a quote from the teacher who said never to rent to Black people because they were unreliable, undesirable tenants.


This was in the 1990s. Racism was being taught to a class of future landlords.

Again, I sigh.

Linda Heisen, Los Angeles


To the editor: We don’t need a checklist of reasons why we should not put Elder in a position to become governor of California. One reason is enough: his adamant determination to repeal all COVID-19 mask and vaccination mandates.

The maps of virtually every Southern state controlled by Republican governors with similar views to Elder’s are overwhelmingly colored reddish-purple with the blood of their residents who have unnecessarily perished because of the same positions Elder is advocating. We don’t need to allow another right-wing extremist to wage an assault on the mask and vaccine mandates that are protecting California from becoming another crisis center with overwhelmed hospitals.

If Elder becomes governor and he follows through on his extremist views, California could easily become another COVID-19 killing field.

Dennis Clausen, Escondido


To the editor: The Times’ drumbeat of attacks on Elder vividly illustrates that the Democrats live in abject fear of any minority or female candidate who does not subscribe to their rigid leftist ideology.


Readers should think about the fact that the class distinctions, including eliminating middle-class opportunities, and other messes we have in California arrived with progressive one-party control by the elites in politics, media, education and entertainment.

That they are so fearful of Elder is the best of several reasons to vote against Newsom on one hand and for Elder on the other.

Kip Dellinger, Santa Monica


To the editor: The last thing California or the country needs is another media personality who thinks that having an opinion is a foundation for governing.

Elder is apparently quite good at raising money for himself, but not so good at raising money for others, as reporting reveals that his charity was rather a nonstarter.

That is what California would get with Elder — another self-serving noncollaborator who knows nothing about governing or actually helping other people.


Ruth Silveira, Los Angeles


To the editor: I would like to comment on one issue that is becoming a bigger thorn in my side every day.

The Times Editorial Board has come out in favor of retaining Gov. Gavin Newsom. I agree with that position. But I wonder why there have been so many articles on one candidate: Larry Elder.

The Times is going to assure a win for him, if only due to name recognition. That happened with with Donald Trump too — if the media had just ignored much of what he said, especially his “alt-right” ideas, he might not have won in 2016.

Leslye Borden, Ranch Palos Verdes


To the editor: Let’s start collecting signatures for the Elder recall election now. We don’t have a moment to lose.

Joel Pelcyger, Los Angeles



To the editor: Since I read The Times daily, I understand the world will end if Elder is elected governor. Just how long is that supposed to take?

Dan Salomon, Mission Hills