Who are the top candidates in California’s recall election?

·4 min read
Gavin Newsom walks with Assistant Region Chief for Cal Fire Curtis Brown in downtown Greenville, California on August 7, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
Gavin Newsom walks with Assistant Region Chief for Cal Fire Curtis Brown in downtown Greenville, California on August 7, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

California will hold a recall election on 14 September that will decide the future of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

The Republican-led campaign, which could remove Mr Newsom from office a year early, will take place after 1.7m petition signatures were collected by his opponents and certified by state officials.

California is one of 20 states with a mechanism to recall a sitting governor and the last time the move was successful was in 2003, when Democratic governor Gray Davis was replaced by Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran as a Republican.

If a majority of voters agree that Mr Newsom should be recalled then the candidate on the list of 46 with the most votes will replace him.

Gavin Newsom walks with Assistant Region Chief for Cal Fire Curtis Brown in downtown Greenville, California on August 7, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
Gavin Newsom walks with Assistant Region Chief for Cal Fire Curtis Brown in downtown Greenville, California on August 7, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

Larry Elder

Mr Newsom’s leading Republican replacement candidate, according to recent polls, is conservative talk show host and lawyer Larry Elder.

Mr Elder, 69, would become California’s first Black governor if he was to win the recall election.

During the campaign he has been accused of domestic violence and brandishing a gun at his ex-fiancee, Alexandra Datig, which he has denied.

He has also been heavily criticised by fellow Republican candidates for comments he has made about women, including saying that “smart” women ignored sexual harassment at work or else confront the person responsible.

In the early 2000s Mr Elder also said that companies should be able to discriminate against women for having children.

He has promised to repeal Covid-19 mask and vaccine mandates for state workers and opposes the minimum wage and cashless bail.

Republican gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder holds a news conference on crime as he campaigns against current California Governor Gavin Newsom during the recall election for California governor in Los Angeles, California, US, September 2, 2021. (REUTERS)
Republican gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder holds a news conference on crime as he campaigns against current California Governor Gavin Newsom during the recall election for California governor in Los Angeles, California, US, September 2, 2021. (REUTERS)

John Cox

Mr Cox, a Republican, has campaigned around the state accompanied by a 1,000lb Kodiak bear called Tag.

The 66-year-old San Diego businessman was also served with a subpoena while onstage during a 17 August debate.

He has never held elected office before and was badly beaten by Mr Newsom, who won 60 per cent of the vote, in the 2018 race for governor.

Mr Cox also opposes California’s Covid-19 mask and vaccine mandates and has called Mr Newsom’s handling of the pandemic “an absolute disaster.”

A 1,000 pound bear walks behind California republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox as he speaks during a campaign rally at Miller Regional Park on May 04, 2021 in Sacramento, California. (Getty Images)
A 1,000 pound bear walks behind California republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox as he speaks during a campaign rally at Miller Regional Park on May 04, 2021 in Sacramento, California. (Getty Images)

Caitlyn Jenner

The former reality TV star and Olympic champion has struggled to gain traction in the race, and only held her first press event 77 days after announcing her candidacy.

Ms Jenner has refused to appear in any debates and even put her campaign on hold to fly to Australia for Big Brother VIP.

She told CNN that she supported a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the US, but told TMZ that she opposed transgender girls taking part in girls’ sports at school.

Ms Jenner, 71, also gave an interview from her Malibu plane hangar in which she complained that her friends were leaving California because of the homelessness issue.

Gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner gestures while speaking to reporters after a Town Hall meeting in Pasadena, California, August 28, 2021, as she campaigns to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the upcoming special recall election (AFP via Getty Images)
Gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner gestures while speaking to reporters after a Town Hall meeting in Pasadena, California, August 28, 2021, as she campaigns to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the upcoming special recall election (AFP via Getty Images)

Kevin Faulconer

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has experience of running a Democratic-majority city as a Spanish-speaking Republican, having held the office from 2014 until 2020.

Mr Faulconer is more liberal than the national GOP on climate change, gay marriage and abortion rights, and he has attacked Mr Elder for his “unconscionable” comments about women.

He has proposed fully paid parental leave for primary caregivers for up to 12 weeks, and 200,000 more places in state-funded child care.

Mr Faulconer, 54, has also suggested eliminating state income tax for families making less than $100,000, which would need to be passed by the legislature.

He has also attacked Mr Newsom’s handling of Covid-19 and said that school districts should make decisions on masks with the input of parents.

California Recall Election Republican candidate Kevin Faulconer waves while boarding his bus after stopping in Los Angeles, California, to promote his women's empowerment plan at a news conference on August 30, 2021. - The recall election for California Governor Gavin Newsom is on September 14th. (AFP via Getty Images)
California Recall Election Republican candidate Kevin Faulconer waves while boarding his bus after stopping in Los Angeles, California, to promote his women's empowerment plan at a news conference on August 30, 2021. - The recall election for California Governor Gavin Newsom is on September 14th. (AFP via Getty Images)

Kevin Kiley

Republican state lawmaker Kevin Kiley has been a regular critic of Mr Newsom over the billions of dollars spent combatting homelessness.

He is a former Los Angeles high school teacher who also worked as a lawyer and state prosector before being elected to the California State Assembly in 2016.

Mr Kiley, 36, has proposed ending California’s Covid-19 state of emergency, and has argued that parents, who “know what is best for their kids”, should be left to make decisions on wearing masks at school.

Republican Kevin Kiley speaks at a debate of California gubernatorial recall election candidates hosted by KCRA 3 and the San Francisco Chronicle on August 25, 2021 in San Francisco, California (Getty Images)
Republican Kevin Kiley speaks at a debate of California gubernatorial recall election candidates hosted by KCRA 3 and the San Francisco Chronicle on August 25, 2021 in San Francisco, California (Getty Images)

Kevin Paffrath

A Democratic candidate to take over as governor, Mr Paffrath is a real estate agent who has a YouTube following of 1.7m subscribers.

The 29-year-old describes himself as a “JFK-style Democrat who can work with our Democratic legislature.”

He has proposed building an interstate water pipeline to the Mississippi River to help solve the state’s water issue, and has promised a daily vlog if he wins the job.

Mr Paffrath also says he wants to get all homeless Californians off the streets in 60 days, by the National Guard building emergency housing, that provides three meals a day, showers, health care and substance abuse treatment.

Democrat Kevin Paffrath speaks at a debate of California gubernatorial recall election candidates hosted by KCRA 3 and the San Francisco Chronicle on August 25, 2021 in San Francisco, California (Getty Images)
Democrat Kevin Paffrath speaks at a debate of California gubernatorial recall election candidates hosted by KCRA 3 and the San Francisco Chronicle on August 25, 2021 in San Francisco, California (Getty Images)