Recall candidate Larry Elder once said it’s ‘smart’ for women to tolerate crude workplace behavior by men

SACRAMENTO — Conservative radio host Larry Elder, the Republican front-runner to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom if he is defeated in the Sept. 14 recall election, once said women should tolerate some crude language and behavior from men in the workplace and that sexual harassment doesn’t hold women back in their careers.

Elder outlined his views on workplace conduct in his 2000 book, “The Ten Things You Can’t Say in America,” in which he said “hypersensitivity” can harm camaraderie and productivity among employees.

“Smart women simply overlook some boorish behavior by men,” he wrote. “Off-color jokes and stupid remarks may be irritating, but a smart woman deals with this.”

Elder’s campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Chronicle on Thursday, though he released a statement challenging Newsom to a one-on-one debate.

His statements about “boorish behavior” appeared in a section under the heading “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Doesn’t Hold Women Back.” Elder also wrote that while “many men are pigs,” a woman’s best defense against inappropriate behavior is to show “competence,” so that she is valuable to her employer.

The revelation comes amid a long national reckoning on sexual harassment and abuse, and as Elder’s views toward women draw growing scrutiny, emerging as a central issue in the tight recall contest.

Politico reported Thursday that Elder’s former fiancee and longtime radio producer, political activist Alexandra Datig, said he waved a gun at her during a heated argument in 2015, while he was high on marijuana.

“My fear was great, and I understood I needed to de-escalate,” Datig told Politico, saying she locked herself in a downstairs bedroom and ended their engagement after the incident.

Elder denied the allegation in a series of tweets, saying he “never brandished a gun at anyone.” He said he would stay focused on the issues that led more than 1.7 million California voters to petition for a recall.

“People do not get into public life precisely because of this type of politics of personal destruction,” Elder wrote. “I am not going to dignify this with a response — it’s beneath me.”

A day before the Politico story was published, Datig — formerly the producer of “The Larry Elder Show,” his nationally syndicated show out of Los Angeles — posted a video on Twitter demanding that Elder release her from a nondisclosure agreement she signed, so she can share concerns about him.

“I’m very concerned voters of California are not being presented with all of the facts about Larry Elder … voters have a right to know the truth about who they’re electing,” Datig said in her video.

Christin Hakim

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