MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — In Larry Elder’s California, the streets are awash in criminals, homeless people are running rampant, schools are failing and if it weren’t for poor management of forests — rather than climate change — the wildfire crisis wouldn’t exist.
“We’ve got rising crime, rising homelessness, an outrageous rise in the cost of living, declining public school standards,” Mr. Elder, the conservative radio host who is the leading contender to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom if the recall effort succeeds, said in a speech on Monday. “We have five seasons here in California. The fifth one is the fire season. And that’s because of the poor management of our forests.”
At Mr. Elder’s campaign events in Los Angeles County on Monday — the last on his schedule, save for a “victory party” Tuesday night at a hotel in Orange County — there seemed to be nearly as many journalists in attendance as supporters. He spoke in Monterey Park, at a hilltop park in San Pedro, with the Pacific Ocean and the Port of Los Angeles in the background, and dropped in during lunch time at Philippe the Original, famous for its French dip sandwiches.
In remarks outside City Hall in Monterey Park, a city in the eastern part of Los Angeles County that is majority Asian American, Mr. Elder sought to harness anger among conservatives and others over Mr. Newsom’s coronavirus shutdowns last year, and linked that issue with another that Mr. Elder has highlighted and run on: the failure of public schools, which were largely closed down last year in favor of remote learning, and support for school choice.
“As Gavin Newsom sat at the French Laundry restaurant with the very people that drafted the mandates that they were violating, they weren’t wearing masks, they weren’t engaging in social distancing, Gavin Newsom’s own kids were enjoying in-person private education,” he told a gathering of several dozen supporters, referring to a dinner Mr. Newsom, unmasked, attended last year at a wine country restaurant, an episode that energized the recall movement.
Taking a page from former President Donald Trump’s playbook, Mr. Elder’s campaign has also sought to stoke fears of rising crime and has portrayed the conservative radio host as someone who can restore “law and order.”
During the campaign, Mr. Elder has suggested if he loses he might blame voter fraud, just as Mr. Trump falsely did. On Monday, though, he didn’t take the bait when asked if he would accept the results if he loses (polls show that Mr. Newsom is likely to win.)
“Yes, because I’m going to win,” he told reporters in San Pedro. “I’ll be very happy with the results. I anticipate winning, so there won’t be a question about the results because I’m going to win.”
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