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Newsom, Elder Deliver Messages To Voters Before Polls Close


And this is it. Today is the last day for voters here in California to weigh in on the recall effort against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. The latest polling shows that Newsom is likely to walk away from tonight the winner. But just in case, he's been getting his message out to voters during this last day, and so have his competitors, including Larry Elder, the conservative talk radio host. Following the race tonight and joining us with more is Nicole Nixon, CapRadio's politics reporter.


NICOLE NIXON, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

CHANG: All right, so polls close in just about two hours here in California. When might we know the outcome of this race, you think?

NIXON: We could know tonight, but it's also possible we don't know for another day or two.

CHANG: (Laughter).

NIXON: That's because this is an all - a mail-in election. Every active voter got a ballot mailed to them, so voting has actually been going on for several weeks now. And according to a company that tracks ballot data here in California, nearly 9.5 million ballots have already been turned back in. So election officials will do a big dump of results right when polls close around 8:00 from those mail-in ballots, but we'll also get additional updates throughout the night with some in-person results too.

CHANG: Right. OK, so what has been the message from Newsom and the Democratic camp as this election finally winds up?

NIXON: Yeah, Democrats have really tried to nationalize this election and make it about issues like reproductive rights, voting rights and workers' rights that we're hearing about across the country. And the frontrunner in the field to replace Newsom is Larry Elder. Like you mentioned, he's a conservative talk radio host. He's a Trump supporter, so Democrats have been able to make this a sort of Newsom-versus-Elder type of race. Here's Newsom earlier today during a campaign stop in San Francisco.


GAVIN NEWSOM: Just consider the fundamental contrast that's on the ballot. You know this. It's not even close. If we don't reject this recall, Larry Elder is the next governor of the state of California.


NEWSOM: I'm going to sound like Obama. Don't boo, vote. And vote no on this election.

CHANG: So tell us a little more about Larry Elder and what Elder's final message has been to voters.

NIXON: Yeah, Larry Elder has been a fixture of right-wing media in Los Angeles for decades through his syndicated radio show. And like most people running in the recall, he's been telling voters that Newsom really hasn't delivered on issues like homelessness and crime since he became governor almost three years ago. Here's Elder in a video message to his supporters earlier today.


LARRY ELDER: We're going to change California. In fact, we're going to change the world. We're all going to do this together.

NIXON: And since jumping into the race, Elder has taken a lot of heat for past comments he has made about women, about workers' rights. He said things like the minimum wage should start at $0 an hour and that employers should not have to provide maternity leave to their employees.

CHANG: Well, no matter the outcome of this race, Nicole, a lot of voters have been upset by the recall process in California, like how easy it was to trigger in the first place, how expensive it can be. Has there been any effort to change the approach here?

NIXON: Not yet but there's a lot of talk about changing how recalls work in California. The signature threshold to force a recall is fairly low. And it has - if a group has funding to pay for signature drives, it's not all that difficult to get the required signatures. New research out this week from UC Berkeley shows that majorities of voters support changing some of the rules governing recalls here. And top lawmakers in the state legislature said recently that there's appetite there to make some changes too. So lawmakers would have to put this on the ballot, and voters would have final say, so this could be something California voters get to weigh in on as soon as next November.

CHANG: We will see. Nicole Nixon is CapRadio's politics reporter.

Thank you so much, Nicole.

NIXON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nicole Nixon / CapRadio