SACRAMENTO, Calif .– When Governor Gavin Newsom attended a French laundry dinner in November, he couldn’t have known months later that he would be picking up trash at homeless settlements and hitting town after town to campaign for his political life.
Newsom’s evening sparked outrage and sent the GOP signing into high gear, exploiting the frustration of Californians who were fed up with pandemic restrictions. The resulting callback isn’t the blockbuster that happened in 2003 – when movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor – but a cast of 46 characters this year has kept things interesting.
Gaining attention in the country’s most populous state is no small feat, and contestants have performed bizarre stunts in a desperate attempt to gain attention, including Newsom.
At first, reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner attempted to become Newsom’s biggest rival by taking advantage of her access to national media. Instead, conservative talk show host Larry Elder took on the role this summer while Jenner recorded “Celebrity Big Brother” in Australia.
The postal election ends Tuesday, with the polling stations closing at 8 p.m. PT. The following are seven of the craziest moments from the California recall campaign this year.
Newsom evenings with Minions, Trolls and Optimus Prime
California had endured a more grueling year of lockdowns and mask warrants as Newsom could celebrate California’s economic reopening in June. He therefore looked at lightness with a Universal Studios event.
“Is this Optimus Prime?” The Democratic governor asked as Shrek and a purple haired troll gathered in front of him, as yellow minions chatting gibberish, Shrek and a purple haired troll gathered in front of him.
“It is a privilege to be by your side,” replied the imposing leader of the Transformers.
After Newsom answered a few questions from reporters, he greeted his new allies in front of blue confetti. “Let’s get everyone on stage for a final presentation, and bring in some Minions and my personal negotiator – where are you, Optimus Prime?” Newsom concluded.
“Am I on drugs? San Francisco Chronicle reporter Alexei Koseff asked, post a photo from the scene on Twitter.
Don’t ruin these countryside stunts
This election was a circus. Literally.
Republican John Cox might only vote 3%, but he wins for most campaign stunts, including the parade with a live Kodiak bear. Much to PETA’s regret, Cox used Tag the Bear to illustrate his “Free the Beast” campaign. He renamed himself “the beast” – and Newsom “the beauty”.
“We’re going to need some big, beastly changes to make in this state,” Cox said during the election campaign in Sacramento in May, regaling his new aide.
Cox then toured the state with an 8-foot litter ball, including a chewed dog toy, a single rubber boot missing its partner, and an empty mustard bottle. It has been said to represent California’s homeless problem, and Cox – standing in front of his garbage sphere – said people living in settlements are “unable to take care of themselves, living among the garbage and grime “.
It also represented the desperation some candidates felt to gain media attention.
Forget Colorado. What about Mississippi?
Kevin Paffrath is a YouTuber who managed to find himself at the top of the Democratic recall squad because his party and governor cleared the ground for any seasoned Democratic candidates. He finally had his big chance last month in the only televised encore debate that got him on stage.
During the debate, Paffrath offered to build a pipeline to transfer water from the Mississippi to California to solve the state’s drought problems. In an instant, he went from “that guy on YouTube” to “that guy in the Mississippi River”.
He turned heads – but was also castigated by insiders who ridiculed his campaign on the basis of such ideas. Veteran Los Angeles columnist George Skelton presented him with the “Dumbest Idea Award in the Recall Election” and added the words “nut”, “dumb” and “wacky” in all three paragraphs following.
Jay Lund of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences argued that a project of this magnitude would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
Like former Governor Jerry Brown’s prized twin tunnel project, construction of a pipeline on the Mississippi River would face near-impossible odds of getting started. Brawls over water rights have been part of California politics for over a century. Good luck adding the governments of the four or five other states the pipeline would cross to this equation.
The process server goes into beast mode
Cox made his point to serve as governor. Instead, it was he who was served.
Before Cox could complete his opening remarks during a debate in Sacramento, a bailiff took the stage and threw legal documents at the candidate. “John Cox, you were served by the San Diego County Superior Court, ordered by the judge,” the man yelled before being pushed out of the room.
The lawsuit is over nearly $ 100,000 that a court ordered Cox to pay a campaign vendor for his 2018 gubernatorial run (wealthy Cox spent around $ 5 million of his own money on this campaign. and over $ 7 million for this year’s race). The subpoena orders Cox to appear in court a week after the election. “The courts have the final say and he owes it to us,” consultant Jim Innocenzi said in an email, adding that he was asking the courts to compel Cox to hand over assets such as data files that were transferred from the 2018 campaign to the 2021 campaign.
Cox’s campaign did not answer whether he intended to attend the September 21 hearing.
Newsom channels its inner Oprah
If politics is a game, Newsom has certainly played its part.
There was a dizzying moment in June when the governor stood on a glittering stage in Sacramento and channeled Pat Sajak, spinning a colorful wheel and selecting winning lottery balls to promote vaccinations.
The winning prize was only for those who opted for the shot, and a rarely cheerful Newsom donated millions.
“You know what, there is nothing more fun than feeling like Oprah,” Newsom said at a subsequent event at Six Flags. “A million dollars for you, a million dollars for you, a million for you, 50,000 for you.”
The optics were risky in the midst of a devastating pandemic, but the giveaway was intended to spark optimism as part of Newsom’s “California Comeback” strategy.
Shortly after the Six Flags press conference, Newsom got into the front car from the Revolution roller coaster at the amusement park in Southern California.
Caitlyn Jenner Has Pain At The Shed
This was Jenner’s big first interview as a callback candidate, one that could make her the one to beat. Instead, one of his remarks to Fox News host Sean Hannity in May sounded so much like a let-them-eat-cake that they overshadowed everything else.
The quote: “The guy across the street, he was tidying up his hangar,” Jenner said during the interview in her own plane hangar in Southern California. “And he said, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can not stand it anymore. I can’t walk the streets and see the homeless.
The moment has managed to do the impossible: deflect some of the heat from Newsom’s French laundry fiasco, making the reality TV star seem even more out of touch with the general populace than the guy she’s got. tries to take the job. Newsom may have flaunted its own mask rules by dining at one of the country’s most exclusive restaurants, but Jenner struggled to identify with her riding that doesn’t own a plane.
Of course, this also led to endless reprimands on social media and she never seemed to find her footing in the countryside. A several-week summer detour to Australia to record “Celebrity Big Brother” didn’t help. It had fallen to 1% in the latest Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released last week.
If Jenner is interested, Sedona holds a city council election next year.
Elder’s campaign is almost bypassed
It was the match that almost wasn’t.
Elder, a longtime talk show host and GOP frontrunner, was dropped from the initial list of recall candidates after building a campaign team and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for his run for the post of governor. State Election Chief Democrat Shirley Weber said Elder submitted tax returns that violated a new law requiring gubernatorial candidates to provide five years of forms.
The omission would have been enormous. Elder insisted to anyone who would listen that he had sent in the correct forms and that he would indeed be on the ballot. He had to go to court to make his case, and a judge not only sided with Elder, but said Weber misinterpreted the state tax form requirement because the law says it only applies to primary elections.
This decision changed the arc of the race.
At the time, polls suggested Newsom was at a stalemate against opponents of the recall, and he was desperately looking for a way to wake Democrats up. Elder never toned down his talk show rhetoric, feeling free to speak his mind and embrace conservative positions and idols that became easy targets for Newsom.
Victoria Colliver and Alexander Nieves contributed to this report.