Susan Estrich: Gavin Newsom's lucky day

Summary: But here's the other half of the story: Larry Elder may be the only candidate that Gavin Newsom can beat. And that is a relief, as well.

Susan Estrich
Susan Estrich commentary
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He Survived!
Not exactly a triumph, when you come right down to it. The bluest state in the nation, facing the "sage from South Central," stays white.
Larry Elder and I date back to the days when he was the house conservative at KABC-790 Talk Radio. The rest of the lineup was liberal. I was the heir apparent to the "Morning Guy," the English Michael Jackson. I was so confident that I actually called Michael and told him that they'd offered me his job; I was willing to wait.
Imagine my surprise when Michael took my weekend job.
Imagine my even greater surprise when the station was willing to take a secondary boycott — of lead advertiser Sit 'n Sleep, targeted by pickets out front, folks who actually looked like they came from South Central — to keep Larry happy.
These days, Larry's speaking fees and syndication fees are about to go up — as soon as the polls close and his defeat is assured.
Of the 46 candidates vying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom, none could put the fear in the hearts of Democrats more profoundly than the last choice of South Central.
Make no mistake. Newsom did not win.
If this were a race between Newsom and Kevin what's-his-name, the pro-choice Republican from San Diego, the Pete Wilson/Ronald Reagan/George Deukmejian/Grey Davis-style governor, the kind of governor who could be a Republican or a Democrat, a Jerry Brown, an Arnold Schwarzenegger-style Republican married to a Kennedy Democrat who once upon a time might have been married to a Cuomo ...
Given a choice who wasn't the scourge of South Central, given a Hispanic woman from the Valley, given Antonio Villaraigosa, given Rick Caruso, given a businessman or a scientist or a public health expert, given a Black former cop (think New York), given someone who knows how to build housing, given the choice of the sheriff who cleaned up Venice (children and grass on the Venice Boardwalk!), Newsom could have easily been beaten. French Laundry (the restaurant!). Private school for the kids.
No, this was the race that Larry lost.
In the bluest of blue states, the Democratic governor holds on! Hardly a great triumph.
The governor and the First Partner!
And the $6 million First Home!
Pitiful politics.
Anybody but Larry. Failed politics.
Larry Elder was never going to be governor. He is against most everything folks in California are for. Against abortion. Against moderation. Against vaccination mandates.
But he might be the next Rush Limbaugh. Or the next governor of Florida. Or of Texas.
Just not California.
The thing is, this was an election that a Republican might have won — a moderate Republican, that is. Or a moderate Democrat. Or a nonpartisan candidate. But between Gavin and the sage from South Central, the sage from South Central was the loser.
But here's the other half of the story: Larry Elder may be the only candidate that Newsom can beat. And that is a relief, as well.

Susan Estrich can be reached at

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