LOS ANGELES | John Cox, one of the many Republican candidates running to replace the governor of California, threatened with dismissal in an upcoming referendum, caused a stir on Tuesday by inviting a brown bear to his meeting.
The candidate has in fact decided to campaign on the theme of “beauty and the beast”, “beauty” being for him the democratic governor Gavin Newsom, known for his Hollywood smile and his cinema physique, while himself presents itself as “the beast” which will shake up the Californian political routine.
“Pretty politicians have failed in California,” the candidate said at a meeting in Sacramento, the state’s administrative capital. “We need big, bestial changes to save her. I’m going to cut taxes, make California more affordable and shake up Sacramento, ”he said.
The brown bear is also the symbol of California and features prominently on its flag.
For his publicity stunt, John Cox used a kodiak bear, considered the largest bear species. In this case, it is an animal called “Tag”, approximately 500 kg, born in captivity and trained to appear in films and series.
Visibly placid in character, Tag was content on Tuesday to wait patiently for the end of John Cox’s speech, nibbling on treats given by his trainer or making his toilet with great licks.
The use of the bear for political and advertising purposes has been strongly criticized by animal rights activists, such as the organization PETA, which has deemed “unfortunate and shameful that Tag the kodiak bear was exploited in this way”. “The bears must be left in peace, not held in an enclosure on asphalt and transported to events,” the NGO reacted on Twitter, urging “anyone with an ounce of decency to leave wild animals out of their operations advertising. “
The number of signatures required to hold a referendum on the dismissal of Governor Newsom has been reached (around 1.5 million). No date has yet been set for the poll, which will have to ask state voters whether they want to replace Mr Newsom and if so, by whom.
It was thanks to such a referendum that star Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected in 2003 as the head of the most populous state in the United States on behalf of the Republican Party.
Polls and experts believe Gavin Newsom should be able to keep his post, as California voters overwhelmingly voted for the Democratic camp in the last election.