Politics, Moderate



California recall election was ‘rigged’ until it wasn’t. Trump’s hucksterism is now a GOP template.

Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

Now listen, I’m just a mild-mannered Midwestern newspaper columnist, but after watching what happened in the California gubernatorial recall election, my manners are feeling less than mild.

We learned Tuesday night that folks in the Golden State voted overwhelmingly to keep Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in office. Once the degree of butt-whupping was apparent, Newsom’s main opponent, conservative radio host and Donald Trump wannabe Larry Elder, conceded.

That all sounds perfectly normal and good, democracy-wise, but it wholly overlooks the fact that Elder and other GOP pundits and politicians, in the lead-up to Tuesday’s vote, had set the stage for claims of “voter fraud” and “a rigged election.”

Sound familiar? Of course it does.

Elder spoke forebodingly of election “shenanigans,” and a website affiliated with his campaign went live before Election Day claiming that “statistical analyses” had “detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor.” Elder’s campaign was claiming Newsom was reinstated days before he had been reinstated and shouting “VOTER FRAUD!” before the votes had been counted.

What if the polls were wrong and Elder had prevailed? What would have happened to all the voter fraud that led Elder’s campaign to predetermine Newsom’s victory?


We all know the answer.

An earlier version of the website referenced “four boxes of liberty,” described as: “The soapbox, the ballot box, the jury box, and the ammo box.” That last box clearly hinted that true believers in liberty might have to take up arms if the voter fraud (for which there was no evidence) produced an unfavorable result (in advance of the results actually being tabulated).

But with Elder’s concession, the voter fraud we were told existed before the votes were counted apparently ceased to exist, allowing the ammo boxes to remain closed. What changed?

I hate to sound cynical, given my mild manners and whatnot, but is it possible the margin of victory in the recall election was too great to allow for a successful con?


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