California GOP gubernatorial front-runner Larry Elder last month touted the endorsement of a man who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
Brandon Straka, a self-described “former liberal” activist who has been encouraging voters to leave the Democratic Party, was charged with impeding law enforcement officers and engaging in disorderly conduct after he and hundreds of other Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in order to prevent Joe Biden from taking office earlier this year.
On July 19, Elder tweeted a photo of himself with Straka and proudly noted the endorsement of the accused Capitol rioter.
Straka is accused of urging the crowd on Jan. 6 to seize a shield from a Capitol Police officer as rioters attempted to push their way into the building. Straka told them, “Take it away from him,” according to a court affidavit. He yelled, “Take it! Take it!”
“We’re going in. They’re saying we’re going in. We’re going in,” Straka appeared to say at another point as he stood outside the doors of the Capitol, according to a video obtained by law enforcement agents.
Straka has a hearing scheduled for Aug. 25. As of May, his lawyer and the government were “continuing to communicate in an effort to resolve this matter,” according to a court filing.
Elder’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Elder is leading a field of over 40 candidates vying to become the next governor of California. The conservative radio talk show host could win in the deep blue state if voters decide to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in the Sept. 14 special election. Recall supporters must win 51% of the vote to do so.
Democrats are worried that voter apathy could lead to Newsom’s downfall. Several polls have found recall supporters to be more engaged and within striking distance of the majority vote required to oust Newsom.
The stakes in the race are large: governorship of the country’s most populous state, and even, potentially, control of the U.S. Senate.
Newsom himself has been raising increasing alarms about the possibility of his losing the race.
“Those that think this thing is not close,” he said Monday at a get-out-the-vote event. “I’d hate to disabuse you. It is.”
Ryan Reilly contributed reporting.