Elder told reporters on Friday that he saw the possibility of fresh mandates being issued by Newsom and other officials in California.
“If I become governor, when I become governor, assuming there are mandates for masks and statewide mandates for vaccines, they will be suspended right away. This is America. We have freedom in America. Virtually anyone in California who wants to be vaccinated can do so,” Elder said during a press conference, local media reported.
Newsom, in his first term, is facing a recall election.
Voters are slated to head to the polls on Sept. 14. Some have already received mail-in ballots.
Voters can choose to recall Newsom. If they do, they’ll also select who would replace him.
Elder, an EpochTV host, is the leading GOP candidate in the recall race, according to several polls.
Newsom last week ordered teachers and other school employees to either get a COVID-19 vaccine or get tested regularly for COVID-19, several weeks after he issued a similar order for state and health care workers.
Elder said he believes vaccines work and that he’s gotten a shot, but has throughout the campaign emphasized his belief that freedom is important.
Other Republican candidates also oppose mandates.
Businessman John Cox said after the latest one was imposed that the governor is a “power-hungry politician who wants to control every aspect of people’s lives.”
“Gavin Newsom was the slowest governor to make the vaccine available and is now the quickest to make it mandatory. This mix of incompetence and overreach is the hallmark of California government. As governor, I would immediately end the State of Emergency and reverse Newsom’s outrageous mandates. State control will give way to liberty and citizen service,” state Rep. Kevin Kiley said in a statement.
Kevin Faulconer, the former San Diego mayor, said last month that Los Angeles County officials should not have reinstated an indoor mask mandate.
“Vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks, medical experts have made that clear. We need to be reopening our state, not reimposing unnecessary restrictions. If Gavin Newsom had any common sense, he’d step up and oppose this, that’s what I’ll do as governor,” he wrote at the time.
Newsom responded last week to Elder’s pledge during a recent press conference.
“Day one, he proudly states, as do all the other Republican candidates, day one, they proudly state, day one, that they would eliminate any mask requirements in our public schools to keep our kids safe and healthy and in-person to get the social, emotional support they deserve. Day one he would repeal that as he would repeal any requirement for vaccine verifications, including [for] health care workers,” he told reporters.
“The stakes are profound,” he added, urging Democrats to make sure to vote in the recall election.