(CN) — After securing more votes and out-fundraising anyone in the replacement field of California’s recent failed gubernatorial recall election, conservative talk show host Larry Elder announced Tuesday he won’t challenge incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022.
The Los Angeles native said instead of running in the upcoming gubernatorial primary, he will focus on raising money to help Republicans in their bid to win back the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. After claiming to have raised over $22.5 million last year during his truncated gubernatorial campaign, the Donald Trump supporter says his planned political action committee will fight against the “radical left’s woke agenda.”
“I ran for governor because I wanted to make a difference,” Elder said in a statement. “While I may not know what the future holds for me politically, our campaign’s ability to attract millions of votes and millions of dollars in a very short time demonstrates we have a message that resonates with Americans, and I believe we can put that to good use.”
Elder was one of dozens of late entrants to the recall race but he quickly gained control of the replacement field without participating in debates or interviews with most media outlets.
The so-called “Sage of South-Central” referred to Newsom as “arrogant, smug and corrupt” and ran on a motto of “We’ve got a state to save.”
“Newsom and his cohorts are destroying a state that was once a beacon of hope and prosperity,” Elder claimed on his campaign website.
Newsom, a Democrat, pounced on Elder’s ties to Trump and a photo of the two Republicans was featured prominently in an anti-recall ad. Newsom told voters in the heavily blue state the election was a fight against “Trumpism” and highlighted Elder’s anti-abortion and other strong conservative stances on the campaign trail.
While multiple polls taken just months before the September special election predicted a close race, nearly 62% voted to keep Newsom in the end.
Of the replacement field, which featured other Republicans like former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, Elder received the most votes by a wide margin. However, over 40% of voters declined to even select a replacement candidate, casting doubt about Elder’s electability in a general election.
Newsom is up for reelection in November and with Elder’s exit, it’s unclear who will represent the GOP in the June primary.
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