Larry Elder, a gubernatorial candidate in California’s Gavin Newsom recall election, said he would replace U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, with a Republican – if Elder becomes governor and Feinstein were to step down during his term.
“God forbid Gov. Elder should replace Dianne Feinstein who nobody’s seen in weeks,” Elder told Mark Levin on his radio show Friday. “I’m told she has a worse mental condition than even Joe Biden. They’re afraid I’m would replace her with a Republican — which I most certainly would do and that would be an earthquake in Washington D.C.”
Feinstein, now 88 years old, has served in the Senate since the early 1990s and says she has no plans to step down despite some Democrats hoping she would. A New Yorker piece that came out last year reported House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and others had been concerned about her memory and ability to focus, especially during the Justice Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings. Feinstein balked at the criticism.
If Elder were to become governor and Feinstein were to retire, Republicans would be able to retake control of the Senate (currently split 50-48, with two independents caucusing with the Democrats to even the divide). Vice President Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, breaks ties.
Elder, a conservative radio host himself, has emerged as the likely frontrunner in a sea of mostly Republican candidates who include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; Kevin Kiley, a state Assembly member; businessman John Cox, who opposed Newsom in 2018; and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner. (Another candidate, former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, withdrew last month after suffering a heart attack.)
The recall election on Sept. 14 was once seen as an easy win for Newsom who needs 50% support from voters to shrug off his challengers, but polling over the summer showed a tightening race. The most recent poll, however, showed the Democrat widening his lead again in the final stretch.
“They’re scared to death that a blue state like California, God forbid they should elect a common-sense conservative Republican who makes an appreciable difference in their lives,” Elder told Levin of Democrats.
The recall effort against Newsom was prompted mainly by critics opposing his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including his past lockdown orders and mask mandates, which Elder has vowed to repeal if he wins.
“This man that I’m going to defeat on Sept. 14, he shut down the state in the most severe way than any of the other 49 governors have,” Elder told a Northern California rally crowd in August. “When I get elected, assuming there are still facemask mandates and vaccine mandates, they will be repealed right away and then I’ll break for breakfast.”
Elder has faced his own scrutiny in the race as well over a claim from his former fiancée that he pointed a gun at her once and statements he’s made about women.
Elder has denied the allegation and says he respects women.