California flag by OpenClipArt Vectors on Pixabay

California Governor Gavin Newsom is the target of the Republican recall election. It is obvious that he is the top person running in the election. A long list of people are running against him. Here are a few more noteworthy ones.

Governor Gavin Newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom (Democrat) was elected in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. His opponent, John Cox (Republican) got 38.1% of the vote. Governor Newsom’s term ends in 2023, and he can run again if he chooses to do so.

There was a bit of drama over the recall ballot. ABC News provided a good explanation about what happened in an article titled: “Judge: Newsom can’t be listed as Democrat on recall ballot”. From the article:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom can’t put his Democratic Party affiliation on the ballot voters see when they decide whether to remove him, a judge ruled Monday.

Newsom’s campaign missed a deadline to submit his affiliation to the California Secretary of State Shirley Weber for the Sept. 14 recall election. Newsom’s campaign said it was inadvertent and asked Weber, who was appointed by Newsom, to allow the affiliation to appear.

She said the issue needed to go to a judge, so Newsom filed a lawsuit. Newsom’s Republican opponents criticized the move as an attempt to change rules everyone else must follow…

…Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles said his decision Monday came down to whether there are reasons to look beyond the Newsom-approved law that required the governor to submit his party affiliation to the state’s top election official by February 2020.

He determined that the law “unambiguously precludes party information from appearing on a recall ballot where the elected officer fails timely to make the designation.” …

It is worth pointing out that Judge James Arguelles previously was the judge who ruled in November of 2020 to give the recall proponents 160 extra days to collect signatures. This was done because the lawyer of the recall proponents claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for them to collect signatures under the usual deadline.

I might have been willing to believe that because the COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone pretty hard. However, I changed my mind when Los Angeles Times reported that the lawyer for the recall proponents, Bradley Benbrook, and Judge James P. Argulles, worked at the same law firm together and served as co-counsel on at least two cases. Sounds very sketchy to me!

Overall, it likely doesn’t matter whether or not Governor Newsom is listed as a Democrat on the recall ballot. Everyone in California who is a registered Democrat knows that Governor Newsom is a Democrat. Most, if not all, registered Democrats voted for him in 2018. Everyone in California who is a registered Republican also knows that Governor Newsom is a Democrat.

How does the Recall Election work?

The recall election will take place on September 14, 2021. The filing deadline for candidates to run in this election was July 16, 2021. As of July 12, 2021, 70 individuals had filed to run in the recall election.

San Francisco Chronicle posted an article titled: “Field of candidates in Newsom recall election shrinks by half in new state list”. It was posted on July 18, 2021. From the article:

Only half of the candidates who filed their intention to challenge Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Sept. 14 recall election are eligible to run, according to a new list released by the Secretary of State’s Office late Saturday.

More than 80 people filed statements of intent to run for governor as of late Friday, but only 41 were included on a notice to candidates released the next day. Participants must meet a number of qualifying criteria, including being a U.S. citizen, being registered to vote in California and never having been convicted of certain felonies related to public corruption.

They are also required to submit between 65 and 100 nomination signatures, a $4,194.94 filing fee (or 7,000 signatures in lieu of paying that) and five years of federal income tax returns, among other requirements…

The list of candidates who qualified for the recall ballot is on the California Secretary of State’s website. It shows each candidate’s name, their party (or no party preference), and whether or not they accept the spending limits for this election.

John Cox

Those who have lived in California for their entire lives, or who moved to California before the 2018 election, would recognize the name John Cox. He was the person who lost to Governor Gavin Newsom in the 2018 election. I figure that most people who do not live in California have no idea who John Cox is.

John Cox is on the recall ballot. He is from the Republican party, and did not accept the spending limits for the recall election. Why not? Cal Matters reported an answer to that question in an article (updated on May 28, 2021), titled: “Who’s bankrolling the Newsom recall campaigns?” It was written by Ben Christopher. From the article:

…John Cox, known for losing badly to Newsom in 2018, and campaigning alongside a Kodiak bear named Tag in 2021, has raised more than $5 million for his bid – though most of it has come from his own bank account…

…The Fair Political Practices Commission later confirmed that candidates can also use money from their 2022 campaign accounts, if they have one… Cox has at least $2.5 million [in his 2022 campaign account]…

…Unlike the general pro- or anti-recall committees, which can raise and spend unlimited sums of money, candidates can’t receive more than $32,400 from a single donor. That means they’re more reliant on small-donor dollars…

You read that right – John Cox actually did campaign with a Kodiak bear. NBC Los Angeles local posted an article titled: “John Cox Campaigns for California Governor Alongside a 1,000-Pound Kodiak Bear”. From the article:

The race to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom took on a circus-like feel this week.

Caitlyn Jenner added some celebrity sparkle to the race with her announcement last month, so it was no surprise Tuesday when a Republican rival John Cox trotted out a Kodiak bear named Tag to relaunch his campaign in Sacramento. Cox was defeated by Newsom in a 2018 landslide.

The 65-year-old businessman also released a video calling himself “the beast.” He repeatedly labeled Newsom a “pretty boy” who lacks the substance to run state government.

Cox spent $5 million to air a 30-second version on television statewide, his campaign said, underscoring his need to raise his profile.

The stunt was aimed at drawing eyes to his campaign, but he promised to discuss “serious issues” – like bringing down the cost of housing, boosting the state’s water resources and preventing special interests from influencing the government…

The California State Animal is the California grizzly bear (Ursus californicus). It is a brown bear, and it is on the state’s flag. John Cox brought a Kodiak bear with him on his campaign. He brought the wrong type of bear with him. I’m not sure how he got that wrong. I’m also confused that in his campaign video he referred to himself as “the beast” (and not the bear).

NBC San Diego posted an article titled: “John Cox Campaign Being Investigated For Bringing a 1K-Pound Bear to San Diego”. The article was updated on May 16, 2021. From the article:

California Gubernatorial candidate John Cox’s campaign is being investigated for bringing a wild animal to a campaign rally in San Diego, which is prohibited by the city’s code, according to officials.

The San Diego Humane Society’s law enforcement division confirmed on Wednesday the use of a 1,000-pound Kodiak bear named Tag at Cox’s campaign stop on Shelter Island the day prior may have violated San Diego municipal code 44.03.05.

The code makes it illegal for anyone to bring wild animals like lions, bears, monkeys, wolves, and more into the city. A violation could result in a misdemeanor charge…

…Tag has appeared on TV shows, comes from Working Wildlife in Frazier Park, a business that rents out wild animals for entertainment purposes. It was the bear’s second campaign stop with Cox; his first appearance was Cox’s campaign launched in Sacramento, and was quickly met with outrage from animal rights groups and at least one politician…

On May 25, 2021, Los Angeles Times posted an article titled: “Cox campaign bear is subject of animal-rights lawsuit”. From the article:

…A group of San Diego animal activists has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order Cox to immediately suspend any further public appearances with the animal through the duration of the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Lawyers for the Animal Protection and Rescue League claim that Cox’s campaign stop in San Diego earlier this month violated a city ordinance and that ongoing appearances are illegal under federal law…

…The nonprofit wrote to Cox after the San Diego campaign event, demanding the candidate to stop using the bear and claiming it was drugged, but the group never received a reply, the lawsuit states…

…Cox campaign officials Tuesday denied that the bear was drugged or abused. They pledged to continue displaying the bear at political events – at least until a judge intervenes…

While I’m not certain exactly what happened with the lawsuit regarding the Kodiak bear, I can verify that John Cox found a different gimmick. It was, quite literally, a “giant, 8-foot tall ball of trash“. The Sacramento Bee posted an article on June 29, 2020. It provides more explanation:

…Republican businessman and recall election hopeful John Cox, who you might remember as the guy with the bear, debuted his new roadshow sidekick on Monday afternoon to go along with his four-step homelessness problem.

The 8-foot ball of trash is meant to symbolize the “damage done by homelessness in California,” Cox’s team said in a release. He will continue to campaign with the ball of trash throughout his tour of California, discussing homelessness…

Cox’s plan would prioritize treatment for mental health and addiction before housing, then increase the enforcement of public camping laws (a strategy he calls “Compliance Born of Compassion.”) He also wants to focus on spending on solutions, and lower the cost of housing…

Some of Cox’s plan regarding homelessness might sound good, at first. But, he screwed up when he said in a video that “California’s homeless problem is a threat to public safety and sanitation.” That description of unhoused people doesn’t feel very compassionate.

Kevin Kiley

Kevin Kiley is a California lawmaker who represents California’s 6th district in the California State Assembly. He is from the Republican party, and he agreed to accept the campaign spending limits.

According to Wikipedia, Kevin Kiley, and James Gallagher (a Republican who represents California’s 5th district), sued Governor Gavin Newsom. Kiley and Gallagher acted as their own attorneys, and won a trial against Newsom with the superior court ruling that Newsom had abused his emergency powers.

What emergency powers did Kiley and Gallagher think Governor Newsom abused? It turns out they were angry because he allowed the entire population of registered voters to vote by mail-in-ballot in the 2020 election. This decision was made in an effort to prevent people from catching COVID-19 while trying to cast their vote. (Keep in mind that vaccines were not yet available.)

On November 14, 2020, posted an article titled: “Judge rules Gov. Gavin Newsom abused authority with vote-by-mail ballot order”. From the article:

A California State Superior Court has ruled that Gov. Gavin Newsom abused his authority by issuing an executive order that required vote-by-mail ballots be sent to all registered voters, according to documents.

Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman’s ruling places a permanent injunction against the Governor that prevents him from changing existing state law, even during a pandemic.

The ruling does not affect the results of the 2020 general election…

The 2020 presidential election was held on November, 7, 2020. The judge’s ruling was on November 14, 2020 – after Election Day. That means the vote-by-mail ballots went out and were used by registered voters before the Judge made a decision. It doesn’t sound like Kiley and Gallagher won this case after all.

The Wikipedia article also stated that Kevin Kiley “would later become a prominent voice in the campaign to recall Governor Newsom, and in January 2021, published a book titled “Recall Gavin Newsom: The Case Against America’s Most Corrupt Governor”.

A quick look at shows that the book was published by BookBaby, on January 10, 2021. It is a self-publishing company that is located in the United States. They will accept “Anyone involved with book publishing, including editors, designers, writing coaches, publicists, and small publishers. Even if you’re brand new to BookBaby, or just a friend of an author, we’ll pay you a commission on their first project. Partners must be US residents.”

ABC News 7 described Kevin Kiley this way:

…Kiley, a 36-year-old lawyer and former prosecutor from the Sacramento suburb of Rocklin, is known in the Legislature for fighting for access to charter schools and was one of the Republican lawmakers who filed a court challenge to Newsom’s far-reaching policies during the coronavirus pandemic…

…In a statement earlier this month referenced by Kiley, recall organizer Orrin Heatlie said volunteers behind the effort were disappointed with the field of potential replacement candidates and predicted Kiley, should he enter the race, would unite those backing the drive to remove Newsom.

However, Kiley is little known statewide outside of GOP circles, and he enters a race in which some of the leading candidates have been campaigning for months.

I live in California, and I’ve never heard of Kevin Kiley.

Kevin Faulconer

There are at least two Republicans named Kevin who are hoping to become the next Governor of California. I wonder if that would make things confusing for voters who are registered as Republicans.

Kevin Falconer was the 36th Mayor of San Diego from 2014 to 2020. He is a member of the Republican party, and he accepted the recall spending limits.

On June 29, 2021, Los Angeles Times posted an article titled: “Newsom recall rival Kevin Faulconer unveils plan to address homelessness”. From the article:

…Under his plan, Faulconer would use an executive order to form a state-run network of temporary shelters on state property and push for a “right to shelter” law that could allow local governments to bar people from sleeping in streets, parks and other public spaces once they have been offered a shelter bed.

He also proposes extensive clearing of homeless encampments, facilities by homeless outreach workers and local law enforcement who would encourage unhoused people to accept shelter and services. Those who refuse would face citations and arrests.

The six-page document does not provide cost estimates but calls for a mix of federal and local funding, and an ongoing stream of state dollars. Permanent housing would be prioritized for the state’s 11,000 homeless veterans, and government-run mental health programs would receive an audit…

…An estimated 160,000 people are homeless in California according to point-in-time counts, a population that has grown by over 39% over the last five years and disproportionately affects low-income Black and Latino Californians.

Last week, Newsom finalized an agreement to spend a record $12 billion to address homelessness, in part to expand a program to convert vacant motels and other buildings into permanent housing. It also includes a flexible funding stream to local governments at a cost of $1 billion a year.

Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, Project Homekey created nearly 6,000 new units of housing at roughly half the per-unit costs of new construction. Last year, the governor also called for a constitutional amendment that would force cities and counties to house homeless Californians…

On July 19, 2021, Times of San Diego reported: “Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Monday challenged Gov. Gavin Newsom to a television debate and threatened a lawsuit over his description on the recall ballot.” The article also stated that Faulconer described himself as “the leading candidate.”

I don’t think Kevin Faulconer will attract many voters. In an article posted on September 5, 2019, San Francisco Chronicle reported the following:

Kevin Faulconer is the pro-choice, pro-same-sex marriage, climate-change acknowledging, Mexico-embracing, Spanish-speaking mayor of San Diego who didn’t vote for President Trump.

In other words, he’s the embodiment of everything the California Republican Party isn’t…

Data shows that the vast majority of registered voters in California are from the Democratic Party. Those voters are extremely likely to vote to keep Governor Gavin Newsom. I highly doubt that the registered voters from the Republican Party are going to choose a candidate who is “the embodiment of everything the California Republican Party isn’t”.

Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner is a Republican. She accepted the spending limits of the recall. provides some information about Caitlyn Jenner. In short, Jenner was an Olympic athlete who competed in the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, and placed third in the Olympic trials and tenth at the Olympic games. In the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Jenner won a gold medal and set a new world record, scoring 8,634 points in the decathlon.

Caitlyn Jenner is also known for being on the Keeping Up with the Kardashians TV show, with some members of her family. The show premiered in 2007.

On June 1, 2015, Caitlyn Jenner tweeted: “I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.”

To the best of my knowledge, Caitlyn Jenner is the only woman who is transgender to have qualified for the recall ballot. She is a celebrity, which could be a asset. However, she does not have a background in politics, and I think that could work against her.

There is precedent for a celebrity becoming governor as the result of a recall election. reported that in 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Republican) was elected governor of California. He replaced Gray Davis (Democrat) who was struggling to fix an electricity crisis that caused rolling blackouts.

I think that part of what helped Arnold Schwarzenegger to win the recall election was his popularity. He played Conan the Barbarian in the 1982 movie, and as The Terminator in 1983. Those roles were memorable, and I think people liked the idea of swapping out a governor who couldn’t fix an energy crisis with “The Terminator”.

That said, Caitlyn Jenner probably doesn’t have the same “clout” as Arnold Schwarzenegger did when he ran in the Gray Davis recall election.

On April 23, 2021, Equality California tweeted: “Make no mistake: we can’t wait to elect a #trans governor of California. But @Caitlyn_Jenner spent years telling the #LGBTQ+ community to trust Donald Trump. We saw how that turned out. Now she wants us to trust her? Hard pass. @StopRepRecall” This started a thread of tweets.

“After Trump banned transgender troops from serving in the military, attacked transgender students and even tried to allow homeless shelters to turn away trans women, @Caitlyn_Jenner STILL hired his former inner circle to run her campaign.”

“Californians – and #trans Californians, in particular – understand all too well the risk of electing another reality star who cares more about fame and money than civil rights, healthcare and the safety of our communities.”

“We can’t let that happen. Governor @GavinNewsom is a pro-equality champion who has spent his career fighting for @LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice. He’s been there for us, time and time again. Now it’s our turn to be there for him. @StopRepRecall.”

On July 16, 2021, Vanity Fair posted an article titled: “Caitlyn Jenner Reportedly Pauses Her Governor Campaign to Film Celebrity Big Brother in Australia”. From the article:

California’s special election to recall current governor Gavin Newsom is just two months away, but Caitlyn Jenner apparently has no qualms with putting her gubernatorial campaign on pause in order to shoot another season of reality television.

The former Olympian landed in Sydney, Australia, this week, according to local Adelaide tabloid The Advertiser, where she will now have to quarantine for two weeks before filming for the new season of Celebrity Big Brother begins. While the show has yet to confirm Jenner’s casting on the program, according to the outlet she is still expected to be paid roughly $372,500 for the appearance.

…If reports of her casting are true, it’s unclear if Jenner will make it back to the state in time to do a final campaign push or even to vote for herself in person. In addition to quarantining for two weeks in Australia, Daily Mail reports that the filming of Big Brother has also typically taken two months to complete, which would place her return well past the September 14 election date…

I think registered voters in California will have a hard time taking Caitlyn Jenner seriously as a viable candidate. She has no background in politics, and appears to have gone to Australia to be on a reality TV show.

Who is Running in California’s Recall Election? is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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