Speed Reads

Total Recall

California GOP gubernatorial candidate served with subpoena during recall debate

Three Republicans running to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), should voters end his term in the Sept. 14 recall election, held a debate in Sacramento on Tuesday night. The gubernatorial hopefuls attacked Newsom over his COVID-19 safety measures and forest management but trained much of their criticism on the GOP frontrunner, conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who skipped the debate.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer slammed Elder's "indefensible" opposition to any minimum wage and "bulls--t" comments from a 2000 Capitalism Magazine interview that "women know less than men about political issues, economics, and current events." State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R) and businessman John Cox agreed that Elder's minimum wage ideas are bad. "I sure wish Larry were here to defend this position, and he should be," said Cox, who lost badly to Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Cox also provided a rare moment of drama during the debate, albeit inadvertently. "Cox was interrupted during his opening remarks by a man who walked up to the stage and served Cox with legal documents seeking repayment of some $100,000 in outstanding debt from his 2018 campaign," Politico reports

A judge in San Diego ruled in February that Cox, a multimillionaire, failed to pay the GOP firm Sandler-Innocenzi $99,000 for political ads and legal costs, the Los Angeles Times reports. After the debate, Cox called the incident "a garbage thing" from "one creditor who didn't get paid from the 2018 campaign because he didn't deserve to be." 

The recall race is surprisingly tight, due mainly to the high enthusiasm among Republicans — who are outnumbered 2-to-1 on California voter rolls — and a lack of engagement by Democrats. If Newsom loses the recall, Elder is the top candidate to replace him in recent polls. Newsom has mostly ignored the GOP candidates, but he has recently started criticizing Elder for his policy ideas and support of former President Donald Trump.