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California’s recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom has presented a bevy of candidates who are vying to replace the Democrat from the state’s highest office. Because of the Sept. 14 special election’s extensive list of 46 replacement candidates, presented here, we’ve highlighted only five of the prominent ones based on the amount of campaign contributions raised and data from a UC Berkley Institute of Government Studies poll that Los Angeles Times co-sponsored in July. With Newsom at the center of this recall election, we’ve also summarized his political career and time in office.

Gov. Gavin Newsom


  • The 53-year-old is serving his third year as governor after defeating current-recall candidate John Cox in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
  • From 2004 to 2010, Newsom was elected lieutenant governor, and had served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1997 to 2004.
  • As governor, he’s halted the death penalty by placing a statewide moratorium on executions; approved a phase-out of fracking, with an official ban in place for 2024; and expanded the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to provide a boost to low-wage workers, particularly those with young children.  

John Cox


  • A 66-year-old businessman and accountant from Rancho Santa Fe.
  • Cox lost the 2018 gubernatorial election to Newsom and is running to reduce homelessness and cut taxes.
  • Supports treatment first before housing when it comes to the homeless. He’s also proposing more crackdowns from law enforcement, redirecting housing-first initiative funding to treatment-first programs, and cutting costs for building homes.
  • To lower taxes, he proposes vastly reducing state income taxes by $30 billion; ending tax breaks for corporations; eliminating wasteful spending; and operating on “zero-based budgeting.”

Larry Elder

  • The 69-year-old broadcaster, author and columnist is also host of “The Larry Elder Show,” a nationally syndicated talk-radio program.
  • Known as “Sage from South Central,” the Los Angeles resident is running to recall Newsom based on a handful of issues, including the governor’s COVID-19 response and spending spree.
  • Has advocated against a minimum wage, supports school choice and believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned, leaving states to decide abortion restrictions.
  • Wants to combat homelessness and jump-start housing development by suspending the California Environmental Quality Act.

Kevin Faulconer


  • The 54-year-old businessman and educator spent 12 years on the San Diego City Council before serving as the city’s mayor from 2014 to 2020.
  • Believes fire safety is the state’s top priority and promises to not cut wildfire funding; rather, wants to double spending on prevention.
  • Has vowed to take on homelessness statewide by increasing shelters and cracking down on tent cities and unlawful camping in public areas.
  • Proposes a tax-cut plan that would eliminate income taxes for the first $50,000 a person earns.

Kevin Kiley


  • Kiley, 36, of Rocklin, has been a state assemblymember since 2017.
  • Would address homelessness by making shelter beds available and then connecting individuals to mental health, substance abuse treatment, and job training services. Would eliminate housing market regulations to lower prices.
  • Wants to undo the “sanctuary state” designation and reverse Medi-Cal benefits for undocumented individuals.
  • Supports school choice, pushing to have a voter initiative on the 2022 ballot that would create a “savings account” for K-12 students’ parents to pay for private or charter schools.
Caitlyn Jenner


  • Jenner is a 71-year-old Malibu resident, businessperson and television personality, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1976. She later came out as a transgender woman, transitioning in 2015.
  • The candidate is running to cut overly restrictive regulations, and is proposing a sunset law to review state regulations every 10 years.
  • Will address the homelessness crisis by removing restrictions hindering developers, charities and other stakeholders from building affordable housing.
  • Plans to veto all tax-hike proposals, as well as cut duplicate programs.

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