Ric Grennell, former acting intelligence director and ambassador to Germany, will be meeting Donald Trump today at his estate in Mar-a-Largo to discuss entering the crowded California gubernatorial race.
Grenell was a favorite Trump surrogate during the 2020 presidential campaign and raised a lot of money for the former president. Grenell strongly hinted at a run against Gavin Newsom during his CPAC speech and has been quietly adding staff to bolster his bid.
The quirk of this election is that there will be two questions on the ballot; should Governor Gavin Newsom be recalled and who should replace him.
The sit-down, which is set to take place at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, comes as Grenell moves closer to launching a campaign in the possible upcoming recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. Grenell strongly hinted during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday morning that he was leaning toward a bid, saying that he has “never seen a better case for a recall” than the effort to recall Newsom.
“And of course, if a public official is still failing to deliver on their promises, and if you can’t limit their term or recall them in time, there’s always one other option: You can run against them yourself,” Grenell said at the tail end of his speech.
If he ran, Grenell would be the most prominent Republican to enter the race yet. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has launched a campaign, as has wealthy businessman John Cox, who was slaughtered by Newsom in 2018, 61 percent to 38 percent.
The recall campaign is rolling along. What started as a shoestring operation has finally attracted some big-dollar support and it now has 1.8 million petition signatures. California law requires 1.5 million signatures verified by the secretary of state’s office for inclusion on the ballot.
Grenell will have some heavy hitters on his side, especially if Trump endorses him.
The 54-year-old Grenell, a Palm Springs, Calif., resident, is close to the former president and is frequently in touch with him. In addition to spending several months as Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, Grenell was also ambassador to Germany in the Trump administration. Grenell campaigned aggressively for Trump’s reelection in 2020 and pushed Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud after the vote.
Should he run, Grenell would likely be supported by a substantial fundraising operation. He was a major draw at Trump fundraisers during the 2020 campaign, and many of the former president’s biggest contributors have called on him to enter the contest.
Trump got only 34 percent of the vote in California in 2020. But the former president didn’t spend much money there and only campaigned at fundraisers. While Grenell’s association with Trump will likely repel some voters, there are likely to be as many who are attracted to his candidacy because of Trump.
But the question of Trump hurting or helping Republicans won’t really be answered until after the 2022 election. It’s a certainty that his endorsement will help in Republican primaries but beyond that lies the great unknown. Polls show a bare majority of Americans blame Trump for the riot, although there is a universal condemnation of the illegal action. If the recall election is held later this year, any “Trump effect” on the race could be negligible — no matter how hard the media will try to put Trump on the ballot.