All the leading candidates trying to replace and replace Gavin Newsom are Republicans, but some wear different stripes. There is a variety to choose from.
The ideologically greatest contrast is between conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder and liberal former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulkner.
Sorry, can’t help you much on the most famous GOP aspirant: Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic gold medalist decathlete, reality television star, and probably the most prominent transgender candidate in American history. She is a recluse on public policy and fails to tell us much about what she will do as governor.
Back to Elder and Faulkner: Here’s an example of how they differ on racial discrimination.
“It’s bulls—that racism remains a huge problem in America,” Elder, who would be the first black governor of California, told me.
Certainly, he said, there used to be racism in employment and housing, “but not now.”
The “big problem” for black communities, Elder continued, “is the absence of a father at home.”
But what about the mistreatment of black people by white police, as depicted in the murder of George Floyd?
“Police are more reluctant to pull the trigger on black people than whites,” he argued.
I asked the 69-year-old syndicated talk show host, who grew up in the Pico-Union and South Central neighborhoods of Los Angeles and became an attorney, whether she had ever felt racial discrimination.
“There is no one my age who has not felt anything. Nothing is important,” replied the elder.
The radio commentator has been insisting for many years that America is not systematically racist.
In contrast, when Faulkner was mayor, San Diego created a new city department with the aim of ending systemic racism and assuring a fair distribution of government funding for things like parks, libraries, and annexes.
“The establishment of the Office of Race and Equity is an important step … to eliminate historical inequalities and barriers that have existed for so long,” the mayor said.
He called on San Diego to “help our country acknowledge and act on the systemic racism that has held many Americans behind their true potential.”
Faulkner recently emailed me: “I reject the notion that America is fundamentally racist.” But, he added, “we have a lot of work to do when it comes to addressing inequalities and barriers.”
Racism is a sensitive topic that is not debated much in campaigns for high office. But it is an important factor when politicians make public policy and split tax dollars. Examples: police funding and the use of force, affirmative action in public education and employment, and the allocation of school money.
I called Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox, another Republican candidate in the September 14 election, and asked him how seriously he took racism.
Cox replied that black and Latino children living in low-income communities receive a second grade of public education compared to white students whose parents can afford private schooling.
“Look at the black and brown communities in California, and they are behind the eight-ball. They are being given less time,” he said.
Cox said: “I’m an advocate of school choice.”
School choice usually means taxpayer-funded vouchers that parents can spend at private institutions, a concept previously rejected by California voters.
On the water, all are candidates for further storage and desalination. No dispute.
bullet train? Derail it, they say.
One caveat in all of this: what the Elder says doesn’t matter. He waited till the last minute before the Friday deadline to file official paperwork. Hence, he did not make the tentative list of candidates for secretary of state, which was announced on Saturday night.
Elder’s camp said it hoped to be included in the final certified list to be released on Wednesday.
If not, it would be worse than Newsom’s team not acting in time to have the governor recognized as a Democrat on the recall ballot.
No party has a monopoly on screw-ups.
George Skelton is a Los Angeles Times columnist.