SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) — California Republicans have sidestepped a potentially nasty fight over endorsing a candidate in the state’s upcoming recall election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Delegates attending a virtual meeting of the state Republican Party voted overwhelmingly Saturday to skip an endorsement over fears that it could divide the party and depress GOP turnout.

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California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson released the following statement on the CAGOP delegates’ decision:

“Today’s overwhelming decision by our delegates to offer no endorsement speaks to the strength of our field of candidates and the outstanding position our party is in going into the recall election. We are squarely focused on putting California back on track by recalling the worst governor in California history.

“Gavin Newsom is arrogant, incompetent and a desperate politician who has failed Californians in every way possible. The state is burning, crime is spiking, homelessness is rampant, students have fallen behind, and taxes are suffocating working people. On September 14th, voters will end the Newsom nightmare once and for all and finally restore good governing to California.”

There are 46 candidates on the ballot vying to replace Newsom if he is recalled, including 24 Republicans. Leading GOP contenders include talk radio host Larry Elder, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, former congressman Doug Ose and businessman John Cox. Recent polling suggests Newsom could be in trouble.

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The four candidates who had qualified to be considered for the CAGOP’s endorsement were: Elder, Faulconer, Kiley and Ose.

Newsom was elected in a 2018 landslide in the heavily Democratic state. But the recall has grown out of frustration over pandemic lockdowns and long-running school and business closures.

At Saturday’s meeting, RNC National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon and RNC National Committeeman Shawn Steel put forward a motion to table the agenda item to vote on an endorsement so no endorsement would be issued in the recall race.

The delegates passed this motion with nearly 90 percent support during the virtual endorsement meeting Saturday morning.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)