Republicans have started jumping into the expected recall election for governor of California, and it’s already a circus. On Tuesday, GOP candidate John Cox released his new campaign ad, featuring a 1,000-lb grizzly bear.
“We need big, beastly changes in Sacramento. I’ll make them,” Mr Cox says in the video.
But the bear isn’t just in the ad. The Republican is visiting six cities on a campaign bus tour, and he appears to be taking the animal with him to each stop.
“We’re gonna have to be tough as beasts to go against the special interests, the interest groups that have really run California for so long,” Mr Cox said at a press conference on Tuesday, as his enormous mascot sat on the gravel behind him.
A bus in the background also bore a large picture of the bear, along with the words, “Meet the Beast”.
California’s current governor, the Democrat Gavin Newsom, is facing a vigorous effort by Republicans to unseat him in a recall election. Last month, GOP petitioners gathered more than enough signatures to put the recall measure on the ballot this fall. California voters will then get to vote on whether to remove Mr Newsom, and, if so, who to replace him with.
Mr Cox previously ran against Mr Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial election, in which the Democrat beat him by almost 25 points.
In his new campaign ad, Mr Cox frames the new race as a choice between a “beauty” – Mr Newsom, who a parrot calls “pretty boy” – and “the nicest, smartest beast in California, John Cox”.
But as Mr Cox continues to strain his “beast” metaphor, some worry about the literal beast he’s been dragging around with him.
“People, I don’t believe this is ethical treatment of animals,” one Twitter user commented under a video of Mr Cox’s press conference with the bear.
“Somebody help that bear,” another wrote.
“Is this even humane?” someone else asked. “This is such a horrible stunt.”
Mr Cox’s campaign has not yet answered The Independent’s questions about the bear’s treatment.