Crowds gathered outside Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Castaic on Monday morning as gubernatorial candidate and talk radio host Larry Elder rallied with SCV residents and elected officials to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Elder is the leading GOP candidate for the governorship as the recall election on Sept. 14 grows closer.
Elder was candid on several statewide and nationwide topics as he spoke to the more than 100 audience members present, one major issue being COVID-19.
“I’m not ‘anti-vaxx.’ Contrary to the ads you’ve seen on television, I’ve been vaccinated.” He explained his choice was due to his age and a co-morbidity he has. “I have urged people that are high-risk to get vaccinated… But some people have already contracted the coronavirus and feel they now have an immunity. And some people tell me that that’s a stronger immunity than the vaccine. Some people feel because it was developed so quickly – the average vaccine takes five years as to – what? Eleven months and was approved on an emergency basis – some people feel it was too soon. They don’t trust it.”
Despite becoming carriers of antibodies, patients who previously had COVID-19 still receive greater protection with one dose of a current vaccine, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine research and study leading to the COVID-19 vaccines currently available have been in development since “the original SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreaks” and “no steps were skipped,” according to Dr. Clay Dunagan, chief clinical officer and infectious disease specialist at BJC Healthcare in an official blog post on their website.
Elder described the requirement for masking and testing of state workers that are not vaccinated as hypocritical.
“Gavin Newsom has mandated that state workers who have not been vaccinated be tested once a week and wear a face mask,” Elder continued. “So I’m just trying to figure this out. I thought the whole point behind getting a vaccine is that you’re protected against people who have not gotten the vaccine against the coronavirus and if you decided not to get the vaccine, you’ve assumed the risk. So you’re telling people who assume the risk wear a face mask to protect themselves against others who assume the risk and I’m anti-science? One of the first things I will do [if] that statewide mandate is still there for state workers, I will repeal it.”
Elder added that shutdowns have also severely affected California businesses, claiming the rate of businesses leaving the state now “is twice the rate at which they left in the last few years. More businesses left in the first six months of this year than all of last year.”
He also touched on the issue of California’s income tax, saying he plans to lower taxes across the board if he is elected.
Elder stated, “We have the highest state income tax in the nation… 13.3% is taxed away in state income taxes. That doesn’t even include federal, doesn’t include sales, doesn’t include property.”
He moved on to the homelessness crisis and placed the blame on Newsom.
“We have a rise in homelessness,” he began. “My opponent, Gavin Newsom, when he ran for mayor [of San Francisco] in 2004 said he would fix the homeless problem in San Francisco in 10 years. Have you been to San Francisco lately? And when he became lieutenant governor, he complained he had nothing to do. I’ve got a suggestion. How about fulfilling your campaign promise you made to people in San Francisco back in 2004?”
As Elder continued, he claimed that among the unhoused in California that “some percentage of them are schizophrenic. By that I mean of danger to themselves or to others and for their own good and for the good of the rest of the homeless population and the non-homeless population, they need to be removed and treated. Some percentage of them are mentally ill and or are addicted to substances and need to be treated.”
He went on to slam the slowing efforts to implement affordable housing across the state, pointing out that the average price of California homes hit $800,000 this year. “This problem can’t be solved, not overnight, but over time it can be solved and we’re going to work on solving it.”
Elder began to talk about a rise in crime in the state, claiming that “defunding the police” has been a major factor in this issue, despite the Los Angeles Police Department, for example, still receiving a large amount of city funding.
“Crime [has gone] up dramatically in every major city in California,” he said. “During the coronavirus [pandemic], the governor oversaw the release of 20,000 convicted felons, many of whom are violent offenders. Released early. What could possibly go wrong?”
He added “we have this ridiculous ‘Defund the Police’ movement. Just three or four days before [former Sen.] Barbara Boxer was mugged, the Oakland Police Chief complained about the money being diverted from his department because of [the]… movement. And then we have this smear, this defamation, this lie that the police are engaging in systemic racism. They’re pulling over Black people and using deadly force against Black people just because they’re Black. It is not true. There’s been many studies showing, if anything, the police are more hesitant or reluctant to pull the trigger on a Black suspect than a white suspect. In fact, every year the police kill more unarmed white people than unarmed Blacks.”
(Elder left out that Oakland’s new budget “maintained historic levels of police spending and did not follow through with intentions they endorsed last summer to seek dramatic cuts of up to 50%, or $150 million from the police budget,” according to The Oaklandside.)
Elder then placed the blame of police killings on those killed.
“It is rare for the police to kill anybody. In… the last five years about 1,000 people have been killed by the police out of a population of 350 million. And almost every single one of the 1,000 resisted with a weapon or resisted violently. When you get down to people who are unarmed, it is a tiny, tiny fraction. And unarmed does not necessarily mean not dangerous. Michael Brown was unarmed but his DNA was found on the officer’s gun.”
(At least since 2017, over 4,000 Americans have been shot to death by police and appears to be increasing, according to Statista. In the last year alone, almost 1,000 Americans have been gunned down by law enforcement, the Washington Post reported.)
He said he believes the “lie” of police killings has caused a severe decrease in people joining the police force. He claimed that telling young people of color that police are bad actually causes them to be uncooperative, blaming prominent Black voices like former President Barack Obama and Al Sharpton and media channels like CNN and MSNBC for propagating “that these cops are not here to protect and serve, they’re here to harm you, they’re here to hurt you. Why should you cooperate? Why should you comply? Virtually every one of these high profile shootings, killings could have been avoided had the civilian simply complied.”
“My father told me ‘Make sure your left hand is at 10 o’clock. Make sure your right hand is at 2 o’clock. Say ‘Yes ma’am. No ma’am.’ Say ‘Yes, sir.’ Say ‘No, sir. Make sure your paperwork is in order. If you feel you’ve been mistreated, get a badge number and deal with it while you’re alive.’ Far too many young black men are not cooperating or not complying because they’ve been told. Why should I? So this is what you’ve done with this law with this narrative. I’m going to change that narrative when I get to Sacramento.”
He moved on to the topic of climate change and referred to himself as not a climate change denier but “[I am] a climate change alarmism denier. And I don’t think it’s smart to pressure utility companies to spend tens and tens of billions of dollars on unreliable wind and solar while ignoring our power grid. While having a war on oil and gas, having a war on fracking.”
On the drought, he said California should utilize the Pacific Ocean as a solution to the water crisis.
“What have these people been doing?” he asked the audience. “It’s not like voters have passed bond measure, after bond measure, after bond measure for more reservoirs, to raise dams for more underground water storage. Yet when we have wet years, and we do have them, water drains right into the Pacific Ocean. We should be saving water during the wet years to get us through the dry years. Right now we’re not doing that. One of the many things I intend to do when I become governor is declare a statewide emergency on water.”
Water is an important resource for California’s annual fire season, which is currently in full effect. “We now have five seasons here in California. The fifth one is fire season. Now, fires are caused for a lot of reasons, but the severity of them can be dramatically reduced. Gov. Jerry Brown had a plan to clear 500,000 acres of fallen trees and dry vegetation,” Elder said, echoing former President Donald Trump when he visited fire-ravaged parts of northern California in 2018 and suggested forest floors be “raked out and cleaned out.”
“Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed he cleared 90,000 acres, which would have been a drop in the bucket had it been true but it wasn’t true,” Elder continued. “He cleared only 13%.”
One of the final and major points that Elder decided to discuss is what he believes is a false claim of rampant racism in the United States. “I’ve been called the Black face of white supremacy by the Los Angeles Times… The reason I’m called that is because they believe… you are a sellout if you don’t believe that there is systemic racism. What I said is this notion of systemic racism is BS.”
“When Barack Obama ran for president in 2007… He was challenging Hillary [Clinton] for the nomination on the Democrat side. And John McCain, a man who would have been 72 years old if he became elected, was challenging Mitt Romney, a Mormon on the Republican side.”
Gallup Inc. decided to do a poll to see which candidate had the biggest hurdle to overcome when it came to voter support, according to Elder. “They asked ‘how many Americans would never vote for a Black president?’ Five percent in 2007 said they’d never vote for a Black president. ‘How many Americans would never vote for a female?’ Eleven percent. ‘How many would never vote for a Mormon’, referring to Mitt Romney. Twenty-four percent. ‘How many would never vote for a person who would be 72 years old when he became president’, referring to John McCain. Forty-two percent. So Obama had a lower hurdle than these B-rate politicians.”
Furthering the conversation about racism, or what he believes to be a lack of it, Elder spoke about an alleged study done 24 years ago.
“CNN and Time magazine did a study of the attitudes of Black teenagers and white teenagers about racism… And Black teens and white teens were asked whether racism is a major problem in America. Both of them said yes. But then Gallup asked Black teenagers whether racism was a big problem, a small problem or no problem in their own daily life. Eighty-nine percent of Black teenagers said racism was a small problem or no problem in my own daily life. In fact, more Black teens than white teens said ‘failure to take advantage of available opportunities is a bigger problem than racism’…”
On this, Elder swung at “the left [for dividing] us. Gavin Newsom divides us… We still have the phenomenon where 70% of black children enter the world without a father married to the mother.”
Elder quoted Obama and Tupac Shakur to claim that crime and homicide in the Black community is due to the lack of a father figure. He posed a series of questions as his final argument against systemic racism existing in the country, blaming the deaths on young Black men at the hands of other Black men so therefore “systemic racism is not the problem, and critical race theory and reparations are not the answer.”
With one week until the election, Elder said he believes the recall will be a success.
“Nearly two million people signed the petition to recall [Newsom],” he said. “About a third of them were independents and Democrats that just voted for him two years earlier. Sixty-five percent of Hispanics voted for him two years earlier. Guess what? The majority of Hispanics want a recall… The majority of non-party preferences or independents now want this man out. Many of you have voted for him just two years earlier. So this is across the board. This is not a republican takeover. This is a takeover from California to the court. Absolutely.”
Jerry Cook, the pastor of Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Castaic, hosted the rally for Elder. He said that as pastor, it was necessary for him to open up rallies to encourage people of faith to open their churches and express themselves over “the cultural issues of the day.”
“There’s nothing wrong with endorsing and advocating for conservative principles that mostly align with biblical principles,” Cook said. “I’m under no pretense to assume that Larry Elder is a fundamental Baptist, but at the same time, I think I’m going to align more with his values than the current governor that’s residing in the office.”
Cook also claimed that despite strict limits on places of worship last year due to the pandemic, his church remained open.
“[The shutdown] didn’t affect us very much in the sense that we never shut down. Because this is the Lord’s church. Because the Lord opens his church, and the Lord closes his church, I have no authority to just open and close [it]… Neither does the governor, by the way. And so we made the decision to just go ahead and leave that decision in the hands of the parishioners, and use what we call in Baptist theology, individual soul liberty. If you want to stay home, you can listen online and do all those kinds of live streaming options or you can come in person, and so that’s what we did. We never closed, not once. And we believe that if the church is going to close, then the Lord is going to have to close it himself.”
The pastor also explained that he aligns with Elder on several issues, which is why he showed his public support for the candidate. He named law and order as “very important. That’s not just a Christian principle. Hopefully, that’s just an American principle. More broadly, I think that’s a human principle… I think every society wants to live in a comfortable crime-less place.”
“I’m not under the impression that Larry’s gonna wave a magic wand and California is going to go back to its pristine nature – you know, a la 1955 or something,” Cook continued. “But the fact is, I do believe that he will start beginning the process of getting California back to where it needs to be. I do believe that he embodies a lot of biblical principles that I uphold and preach for and advocate for behind the pulpit of our church.”
He believes the recall has gained popularity because of “the utter hypocrisy of Gavin Newsom.” Cook referred to the French Laundry incident of last November, where Newsom attended a maskless private party for a lobbyist friend.
“All those medical assistants that were instrumental in giving us our mandates for this state were all not following their own rules,” Cook continued. “I think the utter hypocrisy of that just didn’t sit well with people across the political spectrum and across the theological spectrum. I don’t think everybody that signed that recall is a Bible-believing Baptist. But I do believe that there are people in there that just said ‘you know what, this is enough. Rules for thee, but not for me.’”
Cook added that he believes more places of worship should get involved in political engagement, with the wish that candidates would go to churches to “engage their congregants,” while pastors “would be more bold behind the pulpit and talk about these cultural issues. So then they have a little more information than just what they’re getting on the evening news.”
Another Republican candidate for governor and former Mayor of San Diego Kevin Faulconer made a stop in SCV late last month. He visited Valencia’s Black Bear Diner as part of a two-week bus tour across the state in preparation for the recall election.
Faulconer has been endorsed by SCV Republicans State Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, the latter of which also appeared at Elder’s rally in Castaic to encourage Republicans to vote. Rep. Mike Garcia and William S. Hart Union High School District trustee Joe Messina were also present for Elder’s rally.
In related recall news, a protest also took place along Creekside Road in Valencia last week as rumors swirled of a visit from Newsom for the opening of a Porsche dealership. Although the report of an appearance from Newsom was false, around 100 people were seen with megaphones and signs along the busy street.
The special election for the 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall will be taking place on Sept. 14. More information about what a recall is and how it works can be found here.
Tips? Leave a message with The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer: (661) 463-3228