The California Republican Party (CAGOP) has officially declined to endorse any candidate in the upcoming gubernatorial recall election in September.
Four candidates had qualified to be considered for endorsement: conservative radio and EpochTV host Larry Elder, who is leading in the polls, state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and former congressman Doug Ose.
Party delegates voted 671 to 77 at a virtual meeting on Aug. 7 on a motion to table the endorsement vote. A simple majority was needed to pass the motion.
Harmeet Dhillon, a national committeewoman for the Republican National Committee (RNC) for California, moved to table the endorsement vote.
“So if this passes, we would not vote to endorse a candidate before the recall election. A no vote means the endorsement process today will continue. The chair is requesting a yes vote,” said CAGOP Chairwoman Jessica Patterson during the meeting.
On Aug. 6, Dhillon and Shawn Steel, both RNC members, had urged party delegates to avoid endorsing a candidate, according to an email obtained by The Associated Press.
“The polls are showing that the recall is in a statistical tie and we cannot afford to discourage voters who are passionate about a particular candidate, yet may not vote because their favored candidate didn’t receive the endorsement,” the email stated.
“Any of our GOP candidates would be superior to Gavin Newsom. We believe that the voters should decide his replacement, which will not only ensure a higher turnout of recall proponents but give Newsom’s successor the best chance of reelection in 2022.”
Steel was chairman of the California Republican Party during the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003, the first and only successful recall of a governor in California history.
“Now we have the chance to do it again,” said Steel at the Aug. 7 meeting. “It’s all about the recall, it’s getting more yes’s to recall than no’s … no matter what, we have to work together.”
In a statement after the vote, Patterson wrote: “Today’s overwhelming decision by our delegates to offer no endorsement speaks to the strength of our field of candidates and the outstanding position our party is in going into the recall election.”