Tag the Bear, Mascot of California Recall, Faces a Lawsuit

The marketing campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has been going properly for the governor recently. Less so for Tag the bear.

“Animal rights people are suing us,” stated Keith Bauer, the longtime coach for the 1,000-pound Kodiak who grew to become well-known this yr as half of a marketing campaign stunt for John Cox, one of the 4 dozen or so candidates difficult Mr. Newsom. “It’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Cox, a San Diego Republican who misplaced to Mr. Newsom in a landslide in 2018, garnered consideration this spring when he started making appearances with the bear to underscore his marketing campaign theme that Mr. Newsom was a privileged “beauty” whereas Mr. Cox was a highly effective “beast.”

Bryan Pease, a lawyer who leads the board of the Animal Protection and Rescue League in San Diego, stated the nonprofit group sued to enjoin Mr. Cox and the bear’s proprietor from bringing Tag again to San Diego.

The criticism, filed in San Diego Superior Court in May, notes that, apart from in the zoo, municipal code bans bears and different wild animals from the metropolis. It additionally alleges that medication and electrical wires had been used to maintain the bear docile throughout appearances, citing an electronic mail from Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife, the Kern County provider of present enterprise animals that owns the bear and rents him for occasions and commercials.

“They said Tag was drugged because he was so nice at personal appearances,” stated Mr. Bauer, who was not named in the swimsuit, which he referred to as “groundless.”

“Tag is just nice,” he added. “What do you want me to do? Pinch him in the butt to make him mean?”

A spokesperson for Mr. Cox’s marketing campaign blamed “liberal activists playing politics through the courts” for the lawsuit and denied that the bear was mistreated.

Mr. Pease stated his animal rights group was “an equal opportunity assailant,” noting that it just lately despatched out a mass electronic mail condemning Representative Juan Vargas, a San Diego Democrat, for holding a fund-raiser at the Del Mar racetrack.

In any case, Tag’s coach stated, he and the bear have had little luck monetizing their marketing campaign close-up.

“We’ve gotten a couple of jobs,” Mr. Bauer stated, taking a break on Thursday from a job in Pittsburgh, the place he was working with a educated squirrel named Nut Nut.

“But it hasn’t changed anything.”