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Does Newsom’s Political Strategy Give Away the Opponent He’s Really Worried About?

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

While Republican Larry Elder was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election, the fact that the progressive was concerned about the race at all in deep blue California shows how serious the state's problems are with energy, crime, homelessness, water, affordability, and more. 

Michael Shellenberger, an independent candidate for California governor, has promised to change that. As a centrist candidate who appeals to a wide swath of voters, he believes he's the candidate Newsom really fears. 

The former Democrat said that's why the governor is trying to increase his Republican opponent's name recognition. 

Newsom released a campaign ad focused on abortion last week that targets Republican State Sen. Brian Dahle. 

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Shellenberger's run will test whether he "can break the progressive stranglehold on Sacramento." 

Mr. Shellenberger’s bid may seem a long shot. Independents don’t benefit from party infrastructure, endorsements and financing. His campaign has raised a mere $722,000. But California’s GOP is weak, and there are no well-known Republican candidates in the field. There hasn’t been public polling on the race, though Mr. Shellenberger says his internal polls show equally strong support among Republicans, Democrats and independents.

In California, conservative talk radio can have a greater reach than TV advertisements. Mr. Shellenberger has been a frequent guest on popular radio programs such as “John and Ken,” where he’s opined about the state’s homelessness, rising crime and crazy climate politics. Yet he isn’t a conservative firebrand, and that may work in his favor. He describes himself in a Zoom interview as a “bleeding-heart liberal when it comes to caring for the vulnerable, a libertarian when it comes to being passionate about freedom, but a conservative when it comes to taking care of our civilization.” (WSJ)

In order to go against Newsom in the fall, Shellenberger will have to come in second in California's June 7 primary. 


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