OPINION: Republican recall campaigns are a circus

A journalism major analyzes the arguments of California recall candidates


The State Hornet’s copy editor Alex Muegge said Larry Elder’s decision to make the “L” in his surname the shape of the state of California for his campaign logo is an insult to Californians everywhere. “Larry Elder” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Alex Muegge, Copy Editor

The race to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom is a circus.

In examining the campaign strategies of each of the top four candidates, it is often difficult not to laugh at the right’s attempts at brainwashing. Other times, it is utterly terrifying.

The opening act is Republican businessman John Cox.

Cox ran for governor against Newsom once before in 2018, and came hot into the 2021 race with a broadcast attacking him in May. 


The ad begins with a close-up on Newsom in front of a mirror, with the text “Beauty?” in slanted, smooth-stroked calligraphy appearing on-screen. The ad attempts to paint the idea that he is a “pretty boy” and puts him in a negative light with an immense bear occupying the next couple of frames with “Beast” in all caps, arial font and bolded.

My guess is that Cox aimed to make viewers believe he is a more heteronormative, stereotypical defintion of the word “masculine.” However, he needs to keep in mind that with a last name like that, no one need wonder where he lies on the political spectrum. 

The ad goes on to explain that Newsom is at fault for all of California’s ailments, committing a straw man fallacy in blaming one person for a slew of conflicts that may not be directly related to them in the first place-though, this is almost all recall candidates. Cox even suggests that Elon Musk left the state due to its high taxes, when leading experts at Forbes argued this might be true for someone as wealthy as Musk, but not for the average California resident.

In short, John “the Beast” Cox is all bark and no bite.

Kevin Faulconer, on the other hand, made his opening statements during the Aug. 17 Republican debate about policy changes that have come to fruition as a result of his time as mayor of San Diego.


He led with a claim that he reduced homelessness, when critics like southern California attorney Cory Briggs argue the crisis was exceptionally worse and growing when he left office. Faulconer  fails to mention that he takes a very progressive stance on climate change, likely because he has to appeal to at least a small portion of 39 million California residents, some of whom would riot at the idea.

Faulconer also does something every politician should do in their introduction: He says that one of his major goals is to unite both Democrats and Republicans in bipartisan decisions. 

The nation has heard this before in presidential debates from one Mr. Joseph Biden. As far as one can tell, it seemed to work for the current president. Democrat and real estate guru Kevin Paffrath preaches a similar philosophy of bipartisanship in his YouTube videos, even going so far as to compare himself to John F. Kennedy

Frankly, if you look at JFK’s ideologies and how they translated to today’s American standards of Republican and Democrat, Kennedy might be slightly more conservative than we remember.

In that case, Paffrath does not seem to be lying. For example, in true Republican fashion, he scoffs at the billions of dollars of research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Twitter.

This 29-year-old political novice should do what he does best and stick to making clickbait for the internet. Please, do not bubble in his name on the back of your ballot on or before Sept. 14.

The ballot is a false dilemma within itself. This recall election is not solely about voting no or yes.

You should still fill out the back after you vote no. This is a “just in case” Newsom does get recalled.

It is essential that you vote Faulconer because, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, he supports same-sex marriage, abortion rights and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

A stark ideological opponent of Faulconer is none other than Larry Elder himself. 

A month ago, the Sac Bee reported he was leading the polls, and in the same story published that he denies the existence of systemic racism, is anti-LGBTQ+, jeers transgenders and believes in a laissez-faire government.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Larry Elder (@larryeldershow)

The most sickening thing about him is that in his political propaganda, he uses the shape of California as the “L” in his last name.

This is an insult to Californians everywhere. The state of California does not stand with you Mr. Elder. 

We did not give you the permission to take our home and turn it into your playground. You constantly use American icons to promote your anarchist, right-winged ideas.

It is disgusting, and it must end.

Vote no on Tuesday.