In addition to the national, if not global, impact of California ceasing to do its part to combat climate change, the partisan balance of the US Senate may be at stake in this recall as well. Though neither of California’s two US senators is on the ballot, Democrats cannot afford to lose a single senator — or Republicans will regain power in the Senate. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator who has been in office since 1993, turned 88 years old in June.
Elder is seeking to persuade voters that a conservative outsider is exactly who is needed to shake things up in Sacramento — and that his experience as a right-wing pundit and media personality has prepared him for the job. However, governing a massive state like California, particularly at this time — with the Delta variant threatening the state’s progress on Covid — requires some training beyond conservative punditry and allegiance to the most extreme positions of the post-Trump GOP.
While some Republicans have had success running for governor in California — namely, Ronald Reagan who served from 1967 to 1975 and Arnold Schwarzenegger who served from 2003 to 2011 — there are some critical differences between Elder and his GOP predecessors.
The recall election in California may be the most important election in the US this year — and the consequences will not be limited to just one state. It may seem unimaginable to some that a state as deeply blue as California could have a governor whose views on climate and Covid-19 would rival those of any card-carrying MAGA supporter, but the quirky nature of the recall — and the name recognition enjoyed by Elder — mean that possibility cannot be dismissed.