The latest entrant in the Republican effort to recall Gavin Newsom and wrest control of the Golden State is a bear.

Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox, who ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 2018, is campaigning with a live, 1,000-pound bear and promising to make “beastly changes” if elected.

The Cox campaign is spending $5 million on an advertising campaign that portrays Newsom as the “beauty” who needs to be replaced by a “beast.”

“The beautiful politicians have failed California,” Cox said. “We need big beastly changes to save it. I’ll cut taxes, make California more affordable, and shakeup Sacramento.”

Cox also began a six-city bus tour with the bear in tow. The first two stops were on Tuesday on the waterfront in Sacramento and outside the The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville where Newsom dined during the coronavirus lockdown.

The bear is described as tame, and Cox’ advertising describes the candidate as “the nicest, smartest beast you’ve ever met.”

But that didn’t prevent a prominent San Diego lawmaker from accusing Cox of exploiting the animal.

“Two years ago I introduced SB 313, which was signed into law and bans the use of wild animals in circuses,” said Sen. Ben Hueso. “While the letter of the law pertained to circuses, the spirit of the law protected animals, such as Kodiak bears, from being used in events as props, such as Mr. Cox’s publicity stunt.”

The wide field of Republicans vying to be elected if a majority of voters agree to recall Newsom also includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, and former Rep. Doug Ose.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.