Republican candidate and celebrity radio host Larry Elder could become California’s next governor in September if incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom does not get enough votes to overturn his recall.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom needs to win the support of 50% of Californian voters by Sept. 14; otherwise, Larry Elder would be the next governor just by winning a majority of the vote, based on most recent data.

According to an Inside California Politics/Emerson poll, only 48% of registered California voters would vote to keep Newsom in office, just 2 points more than the 46% who expect him to be recalled.

Newsom seems to be aware that his biggest competitor is Larry Elder, and in his campaign to stay in office, he has made sure to let Californians know who Elder is.

According to Politico, Newsom wrote in an email from his campaign fundraiser:

“Larry Elder is an anti-vax conspiracy spreader—not the guy you want in office while Delta rages. “Now hear this: Larry Elder is just 2 points from being our next governor. Sorry to scare you, but it’s true.”

A rather ‘unusual’ candidate for liberal California

Newsom’s comments refer to statements by the radio host who said that “when I get elected, assuming there are still facemask mandates and vaccine mandates, they will be repealed right away and then I’ll break for breakfast.”

Larry Elder is also against abortion, is critical of the narrative of systemic racism, and excessive government welfare for creating a dependency of people on the state. In addition, he has also spoken out against climate change “alarmism.”

In 2020 a group of Californians started a petition to recall Newsom over excessive pandemic restrictions that affected thousands of small businesses due to strict isolation orders.

According to ABC7, the petitioners wrote that their arguments to recall Newsom include:

“Laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals, in our country illegally, over that of our own citizens. People in this state suffer the highest taxes in the nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result. He has imposed sanctuary state status and fails to enforce immigration laws. He unilaterally over-ruled the will of the people regarding the death penalty. He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following; removing the protections of Proposition 13, rationing our water use, increasing taxes and restricting parental rights.”

The petition gained support after Newsom was photographed dining at a restaurant with several people without masks, violating his own laws.

According to Politico, the gubernatorial recall in California is in two parts. First, voters must choose whether they want to recall the sitting governor or who should replace them.

Suppose most voters choose not to recall Newsom. In that case, the candidate who receives the most votes will replace him, allowing a replacement candidate to be elected with a slim majority, which is why some have called the recall process illegal.

The handling of the pandemic has been a critical point for California voters, who do not seem convinced that Newsom should remain in office.

“This man that I’m going to defeat on Sept. 14, he shut down the state in the most severe way than any of the other 49 governors have,” Elder said according to San Francisco’s KGO-TV.

“I know how difficult it is to run a business,” Elder told the crowd. “Many of them never succeed. Those who do succeed, often run on very thin profit margins, often from payroll to payroll. A third of all small businesses in California are now gone forever because [Newsom] ignored science,” the candidate added.

In 2003, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California when then-Governor Gray Davis was ousted under the same procedure.

The replacement candidate finishes serving out the term of the ousted governor before new elections are held.

Newsom’s term will end if he is not recalled at the end of 2022.