OAKLAND — Former Trump administration official Richard Grenell said on Thursday he will not run to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in September’s recall election.
“I’ve decided not to participate,” Grenell said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, a day before the candidate submission deadline.
Grenell enjoys widespread name recognition in conservative circles and fundraising after serving as ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence under former President Donald Trump, and he continues to have a militant presence on Twitter. He has enthusiastically promoted a recall campaign targeting Newsom and has reached out to political players about running, Hannity tell in May that he was ‘thinking about it’.
But Grenell had also signaled before that he was going in a different direction. Earlier this year, he launched a political organization called Fix California, focused on voting and education, and he told Fox News that his pitch to donors was aimed at a long-term effort rather than “a sexy, quick fix like a whipped statewide race.”
Polls suggest voters in predominantly Democratic California are likely to reject the recall, although Republicans have shown greater enthusiasm to vote. Newsom also has an overwhelming cash advantage thanks to his ability to raise unlimited funds for his defense, and he has drawn seven-figure checks from unions and tech leaders.
Had he entered the race, Grenell would have joined a field already packed with Republican contenders. Assembly member Kevin Kiley, talk show host Larry Elder and state equalizer Ted Gaines have all launched campaigns in the past two weeks, joining a GOP candidate list that includes former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, business owner and 2018 gubernatorial runner-up. John Cox, former Rep. Doug Ose and celebrity and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner.
Californians will vote on Sept. 14, although the ballots will be sent to all registered voters a month earlier. The recall vote consists of two parts: a question of whether Newsom should be recalled, and then a choice of who should replace him.
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