Former acting U.S. intelligence director Richard Grenell has hinted at a possible run for governor of California to challenge incumbent Gavin Newsom. Newsom is facing calls to be removed from office.
Politico reported that Grenell had dinner with former President Trump at the Sea Lake estate Saturday night to discuss the potential for Grenell to run for governor of California if Newsom is removed from office, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
CNN’s sources revealed that Trump and Grenell would discuss multiple topics.
Grenell spoke about the possibility of a run during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, Saturday morning. He said that in his thirty-year career in politics, he has never seen a better reason to remove the governor from office than the current recall of California.
“Of course, if public officials still can’t deliver on their promises, and if you can’t limit their terms or remove them in a timely manner, then there’s always another option: you can oppose them yourself.” He said.
“California used to be Reagan’s Home state and a shining example of business innovation and middle-class success,” he said. “But now, when you think of California, you think of out-of-control wildfires, constant power outages, schools that remain closed.”
Neither Grinnell nor a Trump spokesman responded to requests for comment.
Trump has yet to make a public statement on the California recall, but many of his staunchest supporters have made clear their support for Newsom’s removal, and Mercedes Schlapp, wife of CPAC head Matt Schlapp and a former Trump aide, said in a speech at CPAC Saturday morning that Grenell would “be a great governor of California.
Grinnell, 54, a Palm Springs, California, resident, has close ties and frequent contact with Trump. In addition to serving as acting director of intelligence for the Trump Administration for several months, Grenell served as the Trump administration’s ambassador to Germany. Grenell has also been active in helping Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and has supported Trump’s allegations of election fraud.
If Grinnell runs, he will likely be supported by a significant fundraising campaign. He was a big draw at Trump fundraisers during the 2020 campaign, with many of the former president’s biggest donors calling for Grenell’s candidacy.
Grenell is expected to meet with high-dollar donors in Southern California next week, and he has already begun assembling an experienced fundraising team.
Politico.com reports that recall campaign organizers are so opposed to Newsom’s approach to the viral pandemic that they say they have collected 1.8 million signatures from California residents in support of a recall. They have until March 17 to submit 1.5 million valid signatures to the California Secretary of State’s office, which is equivalent to 12 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Organizers say they are actively collecting about 2 million or more signatures because election officials are almost certain some signatures are invalid.
California Democratic Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Feb. 25 that the recall against Newsom could move forward.
California’s last recall election for governor was in 2003, when Democrat Gray Davis was replaced by Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Current contenders for California governor include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and billionaire John Cox, as well as former Assemblyman Doug Ose, who has also said he is considering a run.