Monday, August 30, 2021






        Election results matter. This would become ever more clear if, despite some constitutional objections to the recall rules, far-right talk show host Larry Elder becomes governor of the nation’s largest state with 20 or 30 percent of the vote, or even less. If this happens, California would surely see big changes over the next year.


        Whether they’d last longer would depend on whether Elder could hang onto the office he might soon win.


        For sure, if he wins, Elder, the current poll leader among replacement candidates, will face a strong Democrat next fall – if he’s even one of the two top vote-getters in a June primary election to be run on a completely different system than the recall vote.


        Elder says he’ll be in the primary win or lose this month. He could face the infuriated possible ex-Gov. Gavin Newsom in that primary. All polls and analysts this summer provided the expectation that Newsom would win far more “no” votes on the recall – essentially votes for him – than Elder or any other hopeful on the replacement list could draw, so Elder would have plenty to overcome next year.


        Elder and Newsom would also get opposition from within their parties. Democratic Party leaders helped Newsom keep all their significant party mates out of the recall race, but that prohibition would not carry into the primary.


        If he wins the recall, expect Elder to vie not just with Newsom again, but also at least one or two other major Democrats. Leading replacement Democrat Kevin Paffrath says he’ll run. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, overshadowed in the recall by Elder’s following as a celebrity, is almost sure to run. San Diego County businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom by 24 percent in 2018, could make a third run.


        But even if Elder didn’t make the primary’s top two, he would still have 14 months as governor and could do a lot.


Foremost, Elder pledged to cancel all state vaccination requirements, but said he would leave some local masking mandates up to local authorities and school districts, unlike the universal cancellations Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas imposed on their Covid-plagued states.


Then, if anything happens to 88-year-old U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the next year, he would appoint a Republican successor, costing Democrats control of the Senate.


Elder also could remove all the members of every major state board except the Public Utilities Commission and the boards that run the state’s colleges and universities. He might replace the full membership of the Air Resources Board with folks wanting to let car companies produce as much smog as they like.


        He says he does not deny climate change, but could appoint Energy Commission members opposed to the current emphasis on renewable power. He figures to attempt giving farmers a free hand dealing with migrant workers.


        That would be in the name of free enterprise and freedom from regulation, even if Elder has spoken mostly in generalities while campaigning.


        The state would also learn about government by veto override. Elder promises to nix many bills legislators routinely pass. Compromise is not often in his rhetoric,


        But Democrats hold majorities in both the state Assembly and Senate well above the two-thirds needed to override vetoes – and they’d surely use that ability if Elder tries to thwart them.


        Then there would be judges. Elder could not change much at California’s Supreme Court and the various Courts of Appeal, as they won’t have many openings within the next year.


        But in local Superior Courts, where many issues are first decided and where timely decisions can decide matters before appeals run their course, Elder could place scores of like-minded folks to exert a libertarian influence.


        For sure, women’s rights would not advance, since Elder has said that women would often be wise not to object to sexual harassment.


        It all could produce an approach to governing California has not seen in the modern era, with property rights taking precedence over human rights for the first time in decades and any fight against racial bias at least on hiatus until 2023. For sure, Californians would learn once more why elections matter.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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