Radio host Larry Elder files lawsuit over California ballot

California Governor Recall

In this July 13, 2021, file photo, conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Norwalk, Calif. Elder has filed a lawsuit Monday, July 19, 2021, challenging a decision by California election officials to block him from running in the state’s Sept. 14 recall election, saying he’s the target of political “shenanigans” by Sacramento Democrats. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder is suing California officials over their decision to block him from the state’s upcoming recall election ballot.

The Republican Elder says he filed all the necessary paperwork to qualify to run in the Sept. 14 election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.

But the secretary of state’s office did not include Elder among 41 candidates issued on a preliminary list last weekend, saying he filed incomplete information on income tax returns that are required to run.

In a statement Monday night, Elder’s campaign says he filed a suit in Superior Court in Sacramento challenging the decision.

Elder entered California’s Sept. 14 recall election on Monday, bringing a well-known voice on the political right to a muddled Republican field trying to oust first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Elder, whose show is nationally syndicated, is a regular guest on Fox News. He’s dubbed the “sage from South Central” on his website, a reference to the area of Los Angeles where he grew up.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the 69-year-old attorney said he initially was reluctant to become a candidate in a state where Democrats hold a lopsided grip on power in Sacramento. Among supporters who encouraged him to run: fellow conservative radio host Dennis Prager.

Elder said he decided to enter his first campaign after witnessing California’s out-of-control homeless crisis, spiking crime rates, looming water and power shortages, and whipsaw coronavirus lockdowns.

“I have common sense. I have good judgment. I’m born and raised here. I think I understand the state,” he said.

“I know it’s a long shot,” he added, referring to Newsom’s ability to raise unlimited funds. But he said he was driven by a “fire in the belly to see if I can do something … to move the needle in the right direction.”

Elder stands out as a Black man in a national GOP dominated by whites. He said that reality counters Newsom’s narrative that the recall is an “effort led by (former President Donald) Trump white nationalists.”

“Do I look like a white nationalist?” Elder asked.

Elder’s entry into the race immediately reorders a large GOP field that includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; businessman John Cox, who was defeated by Newsom in 2018; state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley; reality TV personality and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner; and former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose. He also brings more celebrity sparkle to a race that has lacked a clear front-runner.

Planning to vote in the recall election? Check your registration status here.

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