The Issue Is: Larry Elder, Brian Goldsmith, John Kobylt, and Areva Martin

1,719,900 valid signatures.

46 qualifying candidates.

2 ballot questions.

1 recall defeated.

The campaign is over, and after a recall race that featured an Olympic icon, a dinner at the French Laundry, and a giant bear, Governor Newsom has officially survived.

To break down one crazy statewide campaign, and preview where the state, the candidates, and the state’s political parties go next, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by former candidate Larry Elder, as well as an all-star panel featuring Brian Goldsmith, John Kobylt, and Areva Martin.



BACKGROUND: With some 63% of voters rejecting his ouster, this week, Governor Newsom survived the recall. That result on the ballot’s first question, of removal from office, meant that the outcome of the second question, that of his potential replacement, became irrelevant. Still though, in that contest, Larry Elder trounced his competition, securing 47% of the vote, nearly 40% above his closest rival, Democrat Kevin Paffrath.

ELDER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The electoral math has changed dramatically from what it was in 2003 when Gray Davis was recalled. In 2003, 44% of the state was registered as Democrat, now it's 46% - that's a 5% increase. You look at the decline-to-states, even the New York Times said that they tend to lean left: 16% in 2003, now it's about 24% - which is almost a 50% increase. Then you look at the decline in Republicans, in 2003, we're talking about 35%, now it's just 24% - that's almost a 33% decline. And still, I received almost the same percentage on the replacement side, as did Arnold Schwarzenegger. I got outspent 10 to one, according to a state senator I talked to just the other day, and they brought in the heavy lumber - they brought in Obama, they brought in Bernie Sanders, they brought in Elizabeth Warren, all of whom cut commercials for him - and by the way, none of whom said anything at all about his record on crime, on homelessness, on the outrageous decline in the quality of public education, on the fact that people are leaving California, businesses and people... They didn't say anything at all about his record on fire, about his record on water, about his record on rolling brownouts. All they said was 'Republican takeover, Republican takeover, Republican takeover,' and based upon the electoral map, it worked…"



BACKGROUND: A long-time Conservative talk-radio host, Larry Elder has long been a fixture within California politics. But his entrance into electoral politics brought new scrutiny, as well as attacks from not only the Governor he was looking to unseat, but rivals within his own party.

ELDER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "You know, I was running against three entities. Of course, I ran against Gavin Newsom. I also ran against the state and local party, the Democratic Party. But I also ran against the media, present company excluded, but much of the media was hostile, local and national media, especially Politico, CNN and The L.A. Times. For crying out loud, the L.A. Times ran an article that said 'Larry Elder is the Black face of White supremacy,' and they also had a picture of the time that woman in the gorilla mask threw the egg at me, and you know, she was throwing the egg at me, and the headline was 'Elder involved in altercation in Venice Beach' with a picture of me hugging a supporter - it looked as if I was slapping her. She contacted the L.A. Times. She was furious and the L.A. Times changed the picture, but they didn't change the headline... It was unfair and it was the kind of unfairness to which I was subjected the whole time.... Much of the media was simply not fair, some of the things that were said about me, some of the things that were printed, I mean, absolutely, totally, completely outrageous: 'Larry Elder is anti-vax,' - I've been vaccinated, I encourage people to be vaccinated. All I said was I'm anti government making a mandate of it, very different…"



BACKGROUND: When one door closes, another opens, and as the recall election fades into the rearview, the regular Gubernatorial election is fast approaching, the primary a mere nine months away in June. With a victory behind him, Governor Newsom appears emboldened heading into his second regular campaign, but could GOP frontrunner Larry Elder be making a second run at the Governor’s Mansion?

ELDER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I'm giving it a lot of thought. Right now, I'm decompressing, I'm going to take a few days off to figure out what I want to do - I have a lot of options, including, of course, going back to talk radio. But I must tell you Elex, only in America, only in America, can a Black person be President of the United States and the Black face of white supremacy. What a country!"



BACKGROUND: What lessons can be gleaned from Gavin Newsom’s recall victory? Are California voters happy with his leadership, or simply afraid of the alternative? Is his win a sign of how the electorate feels about lockdowns and Covid mandates? Is the California dream still alive and well?

GOLDSMITH’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Covid control is a winning issue for Democrats, both in terms of energizing their base, persuading swing voters... Also, if you're a Democrat, good to win and run in a +25 Democratic state…"

MARTIN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think the big takeaway is that despite some mistakes that Gavin Newsom has made, for the most part, the majority of Californians are happy with the state of the state of California. We have some of the highest vaccination rates. We have some of the lowest infection rates of Covid-19. We have a $50 billion+ surplus, and the state is doing well. Of course, there are issues, of course, are things that can be improved. But I think the crushing loss that Larry Elder suffered during the recall shows that Californians are pretty much happy…"

KOBYLT’S CENTRAL TAKE: "No, a lot of people are really unhappy, and they've got good reason to be. The homelessness in L.A., just open your eyes, do Democrats really want to live like this, because it's disgusting here in L.A. and it's disgusting in San Francisco. So to say that they're happy and that's why they voted for Gavin Newsom implies that they are happy with the living conditions, which I find gross and intolerable... Are they happy with a school system in L.A., which is not only one of the worst in the country, but was closed down for 16 months in impacting minority kids, 80% of L.A. schools, minority kids, are Democrats happy that all those minority kids didn't go to school for 16 months while Gavin Newsom's kids went to school since a year ago?"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to