Republican John Cox brings live bear on recall campaign trail as Newsom picks up new endorsements

California’s recall election now features "the beast."

That’s how Republican John Cox pitched himself to voters Tuesday as he seeks to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Cox, a 65-year-old businessman who lost in a landslide to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2018, released a video calling himself "the beast" to the photogenic Newsom’s "beauty."

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Launching a bus tour in Sacramento with a live Kodiak bear named Tag ambling behind him in the hot sun, Cox promised to bring "beastly" changes to state government. He spent $5 million to begin airing a 30-second version on television statewide, his campaign said, a major amount this early in the campaign and indicative of the need to raise his profile in a crowded field.

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox (right) stands next to a live Kodiak bear named Tag.

Cox all but admitted the bear’s appearance was a stunt aimed at drawing eyes to his campaign, but promised to discuss "serious issues" — like bringing down the cost of housing, boosting the state’s water resources and preventing special interests from influencing government.

"You have to get this message out and that’s what we’re going to do here," he said.