Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence under former President Donald Trump, said Tuesday that he is still thinking about whether to run in the recall election against California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“I have until about August or September to figure that out,” Grenell told Fox News host Sean Hannity when asked if he would enter the race. “We’re considering it. My criteria is just looking at the long term: How do you fix this for the long term? How do you make sure it’s not just a flash in the pan?”
“I want to do to California what Stacey Abrams did to Georgia, and I think it’s going to take about four years,” he added before going on to promote his Fix California political action committee.
Grenell had been largely silent on his recall plans in the past several weeks as other GOP candidates have entered the race, most notably reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner. She hired former Trump advisers to help launch her campaign — including former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale — and it was thought that she would try to stake first claim to Trump-aligned Republicans in California.
But Jenner’s campaign has struggled to gain traction after some missteps and a lack of a core constituency behind her. She received 6 percent support in the first major poll released Tuesday morning, and only 13 percent of Republicans said they would support her.
Besides Jenner, three prominent Republicans have already said they will run against Newsom: former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former Rep. Doug Ose and businessman John Cox. They are all jockeying to be the leading candidate to replace Newsom. Faulconer entered the race the earliest, but Jenner’s recent foray has attracted the most media attention and public scrutiny.
Faulconer and Cox each polled at 22 percent in the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey released Tuesday. Ose had 14 percent support. The survey did not appear to ask about Grenell.
California has a low barrier to entry for recall elections, which led to a flood of candidates during the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis that saw movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger take the governor’s mansion. A similarly large surge of candidates is expected for the recall election slated for this fall.
Newsom has gained momentum in recent weeks as Covid-19 rates have declined, businesses have begun reopening and state budget revenues continue to build. The Berkeley poll found that 49 percent oppose recalling Newsom, compared to 35 percent in support — better numbers than the governor had in January.
The recall has not yet been made official, but backers gathered more than enough valid signatures to qualify the election. It will likely be scheduled in late October or November.
In the state’s only other gubernatorial recall in 2003, Schwarzenegger waited until early August to declare his candidacy before winning the election in October that year.