Larry Elder wins court fight, will be on California recall ballot as candidate for governor

A California judge on Wednesday cleared the way for radio host Larry Elder to join the field of candidates for an upcoming recall election aimed at removing Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.

Elder scored a quick court victory in Sacramento, where he challenged a decision by state election officials to block him from the September recall ballot.

Elder tweeted: “This isn’t just a victory for me, but a victory for the people of California. And not just those who favor the recall and support me, but all voters, including many who will come to know me.”

Superior Court Judge Laurie M. Earl disagreed with a state decision that Elder failed to meet requirements to run in the election.

Under a new requirement, candidates for California governor must publicly release tax returns for the five most recent years to qualify for the ballot. The rule was passed in an effort by Democrats to force then-President Donald Trump to release his tax returns during the 2020 election. A court struck down the presidential requirement but left it in place for gubernatorial candidates.

But the judge determined the rule didn’t apply to recall elections and, even if it did, Elder substantially complied.

“I don’t find that Mr. Elder was required to file tax returns at all,” the judge said.

The ruling amounted to a rebuke for Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who was appointed by Newsom in December.

The election will be a contest with national implications, watched closely as a barometer of the public mood heading toward the 2022 elections.

Elder’s court win also will be celebrated by recall organizers who hoped for a large field of prominent candidates to attract voters. When Elder announced his candidacy, he immediately became one of the most recognized Republicans in the race, given his years on talk radio as well as appearances on Fox News and other media.

Elder announced his campaign July 12, but when a preliminary list of candidates was released last week, he wasn’t on it. The state argued the tax information he submitted was incomplete, but Elder said he submitted all the required documents and was the target of political “shenanigans” by Democrats loyal to Newsom who didn’t want him on the ballot.

Meanwhile, the field of replacement candidates was set. A certified list released by the state showed 46 hopefuls will appear on the ballot.

The list includes 24 Republicans, nine Democrats, 10 independents, two Green Party members and one Libertarian.

Other Republicans who qualified to run include reality TV personality and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner; businessman John Cox, who was defeated by Newsom in 2018; state lawmaker Kevin Kiley; and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.