SACRAMENTO (INSIDE CALIFORNIA POLITICS) – Inside California Politics is hosting the Governor Recall Debate on Thursday, Aug. 19 in San Francisco.
Candidates have been invited to participate based on Nexstar Media Inc.’s debate qualifying criteria that was provided to campaigns. Confirmed candidates include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox, and assemblyman Kevin Kiley.
The recall debate will give viewers a live look at a mostly Republican field that hopes to oust Newsom from office in the Sept. 14 recall election.
The debate will broadcast and stream to 22.5 million Californians on Thursday, Aug. 19 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. It can be seen on KRON4 in San Francisco, KTLA in Los Angeles, KSWB FOX5 in San Diego, KTXL FOX 40 in Sacramento, KSEE in Fresno and KGET in Bakersfield. The debate will also be available to stream online on each participating station’s website.
This is Cox’s second campaign for the state’s top job after Cox finished behind Newsom in their 2018 matchup.
A statement from Faulconer’s campaign depicted Cox as a perennial candidate with a long string of losses behind him.
Starting in 2000, Cox ran for the U.S. House and twice for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, but fell short in crowded Republican primaries. He also ran a largely unnoticed campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
Cox won 38% of the vote in his 2018 campaign against Newsom. He highlighted the state’s high cost of living, and blamed Sacramento’s dominant Democrats for failing to keep those costs at bay.
Cox, an attorney, became a multimillionaire while moving through a series of professions – accountant, part-owner of a potato chip company, investment manager, and real estate magnate- before turning to politics.
Faulconer, the former two-term San Diego mayor, has said California had been transformed under Newsom from a lodestar for opportunity to “the land of broken promises.”
Faulconer has proposed ending the state income tax for individuals making up to $50,000 and households up to $100,000 as part of a plan to make the notoriously costly state more affordable for families and the middle class.
He has also released a statewide plan that would create more homeless shelters in California as part of his effort to get people off the streets, declaring homelessness in the state an emergency that must be treated like one.
He faulted Newsom for zig-zag leadership during the outbreak that led to millions of lost jobs and a bumpy vaccine rollout, stranding public school children at home while Newsom’s own youngsters attend private, in-person classes, and a massive unemployment benefits scandal.
Faulconer didn’t support Trump in 2016 but in 2020 changed course and backed the president’s reelection, calling Trump the clear choice over Joe Biden for “getting our economic situation back on track.”
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley – one of Newsom’s most vocal critics at the Statehouse, and a rising personality in the California GOP – has faulted 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, 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.
At 36-years-old, the state assemblyman could become the state’s first millennial governor.
This list may change as qualified candidates confirm their participation.
More on the Recall Election
Recall organizers gathered more than 2 million signatures to force the election and emphasized what they said were Newsom’s overreaching policies during the pandemic.
In the recall, voters will receive a ballot with two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him? Answers to the second question will only be counted if more than half vote yes on the first.
The recall was fueled by frustration over Newsom’s coronavirus shutdown orders and anger after it was learned the governor attended a party with lobbyist friends at The French Laundry last fall when he was telling Californians to stay home.
The election is set for Sept. 14, though ballots will be mailed to voters in August.
Why exactly is there a recall drive against Newsom? The answer is simple and complicated: Californians grew angry over a difficult year. Whipsaw pandemic lockdowns, crushing job losses from business closures, shuttered schools and the disruption of daily life soured just about everybody.
The complicated part: In a state with nearly 40 million people, there are many grievances, from California’s wallet-sapping taxes to a raging homelessness crisis. As governor, Newsom became a target for that resentment.
For months, Newsom steered around questions about a possible recall election but in March launched an aggressive campaign strategy, fundraising, running ads attacking the recall, and doing national TV and cable interview
Newsom, who was elected in a 2018 landslide, sees the recall as an attack on California’s progressive policies.
The recall is backed by state and national Republicans, but organizers argue they have a broad-based coalition, including many independents and Democrats.
It’s not uncommon in California for residents to seek recalls but they rarely get on the ballot – and even fewer succeed. A sitting governor has been ousted just once in the state, when unpopular Democrat Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenneger.
With 46 replacement candidates on the ballot, it’s possible a winner could emerge with as little as 20% of the vote should Newsom be recalled — a fraction of what a candidate would need in a typical statewide election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.