Quote from us and an anchor grantee, Communities for a New CA.
Although Elder’s views may be controversial with Democrats, simply campaigning against them may prove to be a weakness of Newsom’s campaign, said Ludovic Blain, executive director of California Donor Table, a group of liberal donors that funds community organizing efforts targeting people of color.
Blain said the 2020 presidential contest and the 2021 Senate elections in Georgia showed that Democrats need to show voters of color that they will make things better, not just that their opponents are bad, to win elections.
“The Newsom campaign is making a big mistake in just framing their campaign as being against Republican bogeymen,” Blain said.
“Gavin needs to be clear why people need to turn out to vote, what’s at stake and what he will do to continue to make things better, not just how the other candidates will make things worse.”
Blain said the argument that a vote against Newsom might turn out to be a vote for Elder only works for voters who are well informed about the recall election and how the ballot works. Some voters may also see Elder’s race as a reason to vote for him.
“I think having a very conservative Black challenger cuts multiple ways,” Blain said. “There’s a question of whether his candidacy affects communities of color… how much it empowers white folks who have voted for racists multiple times being able to vote for a Black person and feel they aren’t racist.”
Elder does help Newsom establish a contrast for voters, said Pablo Rodriguez, who leads Communities for a New California, an organization that engages with Latino communities. But Rodriguez said his group’s work talking to voters of color whom Newsom needs to win makes him believe Newsom needs to make his campaign about more than just Elder.
“I think that contrast makes it easier,” Rodriguez said. “But I think it’s a mistake to just focus on one, even though he’s the leader in recent polls… I think it would be a mistake to target him as one villain.”