In a strong blue state, Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election on Sept. 14. In an example of how weird politics has become in the state, a controversial and conservative Black radio host is trying to become the first Republican to win a California gubernatorial race since Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Larry Elder, 69, opposes gun control, mask mandates, disputes the idea that America is systematically racist, and opposes the minimum wage because he says it tramples the free market.

Elder also blames state Democrats for California’s homeless crisis, high taxes, and spiking crime rates. He said the state’s government has gotten too big and too costly and it infringes on people’s lives and livelihoods. Elder has criticized Roe v. Wade and argued abortion restrictions should be left to the states to decide.

The Los Angeles native acknowledged the existance of climate change but warns against “the war on oil and gas” and claims shifting too quickly into a renewable-energy economy would cost jobs and fail to keep the lights on.

Elder has voiced his criticisms of Black Lives Matter and has called racial quotas a “crutch and a cop-out.” He also opposes efforts to “defund” the police. In a 1995 interview with the Orange County Register, Elder said, “we have to stop bitching, and moaning, and whining and crying and blaming the white man for everything.” Black conservative commentator Candace Owens has called Elder one of her “idols.”



When Elder was doing radio in Los Angeles in the 1990s during the Rodney King riots, Black listeners would regularly call into his show to call him an “Uncle Tom” and tell him he’s “not a brother.”

Elder has used this as evidence to argue “Black people are more racist than whites” and said “white condescension is more damaging than white racism,” in his book "The Ten Things You Can’t Say In America." 

According to columnist Ruben Navarrette, as Elder’s fame grew he would often talk to white conservatives who were happy to hear him say things like absentee fathers are to blame for crime, systemic racism is a “lie,”  and the minimum wage should be $0.

Elder’s Republican primary opponents include businessman John Cox, state assemblyman Kevin Kiley, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and former Olympian and TV personality Caitlyn Jenner.

Elder has described himself as the "Sage from South Central," an area of Los Angeles that has suffered through decades of crime and poverty. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1977 and received his undergrad from Brown University.

In 2015, Elder allegedly threatened his ex-fiance Alexandra Datig by brandishing a gun during an argument. Elder denied all allegations that he was emotionally abusive.

“I have never brandished a gun on anyone. I grew up in South Central; I know exactly how destructive this type of behavior is. It’s not me, and anyone who knows me knows it’s not me. These are salacious allegations,” Elder said.



Elder says he considers himself a longshot candidate given Newsom’s fundraising abilities but believes he is the only Republican with a shot.

“I don’t think anyone can win except for me,” Elder said.