Governor Recall Debate: Get to know the candidates

Inside California Politics

From left, Republican candidates for California Governor John Cox, Kevin Faulconer, Kevin Kiley and Doug Ose participate in a debate at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in Yorba Linda, Calif. California Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a Sept. 14 recall election that could remove him from office. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SACRAMENTO (INSIDE CALIFORNIA POLITICS) – Three candidates for California governor will be joining Inside California Politics on Thursday, Aug. 19 for the Recall Debate.

The confirmed candidates include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox, and assemblyman Kevin Kiley.

The debate will be broadcast on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Here’s a closer look at the three candidates.

John Cox

“California has tried pretty politicians. It’s time for a beastly change.”


Republican candidate John Cox is campaigning for governor for the second time after falling to Governor Newsom in 2018.

According to Cox’s campaign website, he was raised by a single mother, worked his way through college, and successfully built a business from scratch.

Cox says he ‘will rip up the corruption from the roots to pass the beastly changes California needs.’

His campaign focuses on:

  • Addressing homelessness
  • Slashing taxes
  • Making CA more affordable
  • Opening our schools
  • Reopening our econmy
  • Lowering the cost of energy and making it more reliable

In 2000, Cox ran for the U.S. House and twice for U.S. Senate in Illinois — He fell short in crowded Republican primaries.

In 2008, Cox also ran for the Republican presidential nomination.

In 2018, Cox won 38% of the vote against Newsom — In that campaign, he focused on the high cost of living and blamed the Democrats for that.

In the first debate, Cox appeared to endorse eliminating the state’s minimum wage law.

“The real, true minimum wage … should be zero. It should be set between the employer and the employee,” Cox said.

Kevin Faulconer

“It’s time for the California Comeback.”


Republican candidate Kevin Faulconer is running for California governor to restore the state — He says Governor Newsom has transformed the state of opportunity to the ‘land of broken promises.’

Faulconer was the 36th mayor of San Diego from 2014 to 2020.

During that time, he brought San Diego back from the brink of bankruptcy, according to his campaign website.

Faulconer’s campaign focuses on:

  • Wildfires: Lives, homes and property
  • Helping our heroes
  • Save California restaurants plan
  • Tax cut plan
  • Reducing homelessness
  • Reform California’s unemployment system
  • Keeping our communities safe
  • Tap here to find full list of issues

Faulconer proposed ending state income tax for residents making up to $50,000 and households up to $100,000. This is part of a plan to make the state more affordable.

He also has a plan to create more homeless shelters to get people off the streets.

In 2016, Faulconer did not support former President Trump but backed his reelection in 2020 saying Trump was the clear choice to get the economy back on track.

At the first debate, Faulconer was critical of state efforts to expand health care for people who entered the country illegally.

Faulconer also stood out by emphatically encouraging everyone watching to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, something none of the other contenders on stage repeated.

Faulconer, who made his plea when asked about masks in school, said vaccinations are the best way to end the pandemic. He said he opposes mask mandates in schools, but wouldn’t give a clear answer on whether he’d prohibit schools from requiring masks.

Kevin Kiley

“Fighting for California.”


Republican candidate Kevin Kiley would become California’s first millennial governor if elected.

In 2016, Kiley was elected to the California State Assembly and had been reelected twice, with the most votes of any Republican in California history in 2020.

The 36-year-old is one of Newsom’s most vocal critics at the State House — He faults Newsom for “special interest corruption” and promised to be an antidote to the governor’s “lawless mode of governance,” he said in a statement.

Kiley is the only “100 percent citizen-backed California elected official,” according to his campaign website.

He is running for governor while focusing on humility, the rule of law, the public interest, accountability, citizen service, transparency, unity, and responsibility.

Kiley, a 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.

“This used to be the state where anyone could get ahead. Now it’s the state that many can’t wait to leave behind, and our soaring housing costs are central to that,” said Kevin Kiley at the first debate in early August.

Kiley also stated that he believes in ‘personal choice’ when it comes to vaccines.

Don’t miss the Governor Recall Debate on Thursday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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