Republican gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder drew a standing-room crowd on his visit to Fresno on Sunday, dishing out his views on race, poverty, vaccines, and Gavin Newsom’s shortcomings.
About 1,100 supporters — nearly all maskless amid the pandemic — greeted the talk-radio host turned politician and showered him with continuous rounds of applause at the Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall on the campus of Clovis North High School.
Watch: Elder’s Supporters Point to Newsom ‘Hypocrisy’
“Systemic Racism Is Not the Problem’
Elder shared stories of his childhood and the relationships he had with his parents
As he described his life through the eyes of a young black man living in South Central Los Angeles, Elder rebutted the argument that systemic racism drives high crime in black and brown neighborhoods.
“I say to you, systemic racism is not the problem and critical race theory is not the answer,” said Elder.
He also went on to denounce the failings of the public education system, California’s unaffordable cost of living, and water shortage problems — all issues Elder said he plans to focus on if he supplants Newsom as governor in the Sept. 14 recall.
Married couple Gary and Arlene Cordova said they had been following Elder’s radio show for years. His personality, political points, and the idea of seeing past race appeal to them, they said.
Arlene, who works for Clovis Unified School District, says she’s bothered by the governor’s strict COVID-19 rules that he doesn’t follow himself while kids struggle to learn through Zoom.
She says she felt inspired by Elder’s back story and his message that you can be anything you want to be regardless of race.
“You can be anything. You don’t just fall into this box because of your skin color and I think that’s a huge downfall and a huge division and separation of all of us Americans. Because I’m brown, I am not more important than any other color or I’m less than … and that’s how he views it,” said Arlene. “If you work hard, you will reap the benefits.”
Elder Earns Bredefeld’s Support
Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld sat front and center among Elder’s supporters.
“He has a real chance to become the next governor, I support him as millions of people (do) and I think we’re going to see a real change come September 14,” said Bredefeld.
Bredefeld explained why he thinks Elder would be good for the state and good for Fresno.
“He’s going to undo all the insanity that the radicals and Newsom are engaged in — California once had tremendous glory and now we are behind in everything,” said Bredefeld. “He’s going to stop all the crazy mandates, all the lockdowns, he’s going to deal with crime, he’s going to really deal with the homeless, he’s going to do something about real water storage.”
Elder’s latest campaign filings show he recently received a $1,000 contribution from Bredefeld.
During the rally, Elder said that Newsom has a great advantage in the race due to the millions of contributions he has received from public employees and teachers unions, Hollywood, and big tech in trying to fend off the recall.
“He can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money. I cannot. I have expenditure limitations. He does not — already he’s raised $50 million dollars,” said Elder.
Politico reported earlier this month that while Elder leads in fundraising among Republican candidates, Newsom had raised $45 million through the end of July. That was 10 times Elder’s $4.5 million.
Elder said the Democratic party is threatened by him and joked that is the reason they have labeled him a “white supremacist.”
Despite Controversies, Elder’s Supporters Remain Firm
In his book “Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America,” published in 2003, Elder suggested that there are several reasons why venture capitalists should be able to ask female entrepreneurs whether they plan on having children, and when, to “protect” their “investment.”
After those comments resurfaced, Elder’s former fiancée came forward with allegations that she was emotionally mistreated by him.
To Elder’s supporters, however, his comments about women do not derail their support. What’s important, they say, are the policies Elder intends to enact if he becomes governor.
“When you tally everything, I mean, not every candidate is going to be perfect 100% the way we want it to be,” said Arlene Cordova. “But you got to weigh out your options and Elder’s above Newsom any day.”
Cary Weigant, who attended the rally, considers himself a proud Republican and says that what drew him to Elder was the candidate’s strong sense of family values.
Weigant said he hopes that the comments made by Elder many years ago are something he reflected on and has reconsidered now.
“If that’s the stand that Larry has, I don’t have to agree with that,” said Weigant.
Weigant said he’s fully behind the recall and thinks Newsom has failed the state and its small businesses. He added that he welcomes Elder’s support for law enforcement.
Elder Says No to Vaccine Mandates
A resounding point of importance throughout Elder’s speech was the topic of vaccine mandates.
To a standing ovation, he promised no vaccine mandates under his leadership.
“I don’t drink coffee, I drink tea and when I become governor, assuming there are still mandates for vaccines and mandates for face masks, it will be repealed before my first cup of tea.”