GOP leaders reverse push for approval of California recall | New policies
By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP political writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Two powerful California Republicans on Friday urged state GOP members to withhold their approval in an upcoming recall election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.
The California Republican Party has argued over whether to anoint a single candidate with its seal of approval from a wide range of candidates, including conservative radio host Larry Elder, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox and former Olympian and reality. TV personality Caitlyn Jenner.
In an email obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, Republican National Committee members Harmeet Dhillon and Shawn Steel urged party delegates not to support a candidate at their meeting scheduled for Saturday.
With a wide range of GOP candidates, they said in the email that the party shouldn’t risk discouraging voters whose preferred candidates might be snubbed. Recent polls show tight competition.
“Polls show that the recall is on a statistical par and we cannot afford to discourage voters who are passionate about a particular candidate, but who might not vote because their preferred candidate has not received approval,” they wrote.
The email added, “Any of our GOP candidates would be superior to Gavin Newsom. We believe voters should decide on his replacement, which will not only ensure a higher turnout for supporters of the removal, but give Newsom’s successor the best chance of being re-elected in 2022. “
Dhillon and Steel’s statement represents a turnaround as they previously backed an amendment to the party’s statutes that paved the way for eventual approval. They wrote in the email that the status change was proposed months before anyone knew how many Republicans would qualify for the ballot.
The party was preparing for its controversial Saturday meeting on approval. Four candidates qualified: Elder, Faulconer, State Assembly Member Kevin Kiley and former Congressman Doug Ose.
There will be 46 replacement candidates in the September 14 poll, including 24 Republicans.
Earlier, Tory Cox accused party insiders of trying to steer approval towards Faulconer, a centrist. Cox, in protest, said he would not seek approval.
The recall arose out of widespread frustration during the pandemic over stay-at-home orders, crushing job losses due to long-term business and school closures that together disrupted the lives of millions of people.
In the recall election, voters will be asked two questions: First, should Newsom be removed, yes or no? The second question will be a list of alternate candidates to choose from.
If a majority votes for Newsom’s impeachment, the candidate with the most votes on the second question becomes governor.
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