Republicans focus on Newsom, avoid Elder in third recall debate

In the third Republican recall debate, Kevin Faulconer, John Cox and Kevin Kiley once again trained their attacks on Gov. Gavin Newsom: particularly his handling of the pandemic. 

"This governor opened and shut down our economy," said Faulconer.  "We had businesses in San Diego sometimes shut down five, six different times, because of a one-size-fits all policy." 

"He’s ignoring the fact he can’t produce electricity, he can’t produce water, he can’t protect people from wildfires that are threatening their existence," said John Cox.

 "I will bring a new approach of trust, it would be harder to imagine a greater recipe for distrust than what Gavin Newsom has followed," said Kiley. 

Each candidate criticized mask and vaccine mandates, laid out plans to tackle homelessness and wildfires and appealed to Latino voters. Analysts say the state's largest ethnic group (39%) could have a major impact on this recall's outcome.  "Our Latino families want a leader who’s going to stand up, support our small businesses, support keeping our kids in school and give them a choice," said Faulconer. 

"Even prior to COVID, CA ranked 49th out of 50 states, in terms of education outcomes in low-income communities," said Kiley.  "I came to the legislature to fight for educational equity."

 "Education is absolutely the key," said Cox. "You have to have a good education. We have to cut the regulations that restrict people from opening their own businesses." 

Save one question about Larry Elder's stance on minimum wage, the debate steered clear of the leader in the polls who made several headlines Thursday.  

This is the third debate he's skipped. 

In an article published in Politico – Elder's former fiance and producer alleged he waved a gun at her in 2015.  

In response, Elder said this: "I have never brandished a gun at anyone. I grew up in South Central; I know exactly how destructive this type of behavior is. It’s not me, and everyone who knows me knows it’s not me. These are salacious allegations. People do not get into public life precisely because of this type of politics of personal destruction. I am not going to dignify this with a response—it’s beneath me. While my opponents and the Newsom campaign would love to keep voters distracted, I am going to stay focused on the issues that inspired 1.7 million Californians to petition for this recall." 

Kiley called the report disturbing. 

Faulconer said Elder doesn't have the character to lead the state. 

This week, Elder also stood by comments he made in his 2002 book, writing employers should be able to ask women if and when they plan to get pregnant. "I know there are a bunch of rules and regulations that prevent that, but I wonder whether or not it’s wise for government to be interfering like this," Elder told reporters during a news conference. 

During his "no on recall" tour of the state, Newsom also criticized Elder's comments on women and his stance on COVID. "He wants to day 1, eliminate masks in schools, doesn’t believe in vaccinations. Doesn’t believe in vaccine verifications."

Newsom, Elder and Caitlyn Jenner were all invited to the debate, but declined.

Election day for the recall election is on Sept. 14. 

Mail-in ballots were also sent to all registered voters this week.