Who is running against Newsom in the recall and what you need to know

By Jill Cowan

By Jill Cowan

NYTimes News Service

We’re just about two months away from a closely watched election that will indelibly shape the state’s future. And as of this weekend, we know — for the most part — who will be on the ballot.

I am, of course, referring to the special election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, which is set to take place on Sept. 14. Voters will be asked two questions: First, should Newsom be kicked out of his job early? And second, who should replace him if the majority of voters say that he should, indeed, get the boot?

On Saturday, Shirley Weber, the state’s elections chief, posted a list of candidates vying to take over for the governor, which will be certified this week. On it were 41 Californians — the ones who turned in their paperwork by the Friday deadline.

Here’s what you need to know about who is on the list, who is not and what’s ahead:

Forty-one is a lot fewer than the 74 who officially announced their intent to run, and it’s also a lot fewer than the more than 100 candidates on the ballot in the 2003 recall of Gray Davis. What’s up with that?

Although a judge gave recall proponents more time to gather signatures for their cause because of the pandemic, the rest of the recall timeline has been compressed as Democrats, who have almost entirely fallen in line with Newsom, pushed to get the question in front of voters while they’re feeling optimistic about their post-pandemic lives.

And candidates had to file their paperwork 59 days before the election.

It’s not clear what other factors may have led to the narrower field, but one thing is certain: There are no serious Democratic challengers. (There had been speculation about whether any might take the opportunity, but both the governor and national party leaders have made it clear they would not be happy about someone potentially splitting the vote.)

What were the requirements for would-be candidates to qualify?

Candidates must be United States citizens who are currently qualified to vote for California governor.

In order to file for candidacy, they had to pay a fee of about $4,200, which is, according to the secretary of state’s office, 2% of the first year’s salary for being governor.

Or, instead of that filing fee, they could submit 7,000 valid signatures from voters supporting their run. Under a new law, the candidates also had to file the last five years of their tax returns.

That’s where the conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder is in dispute with the state.

Elder was told that he didn’t file the required tax information, The Associated Press reported.

In response, Elder said on Twitter that he planned to sue in order to get on the ballot, which will be sent to millions of Californians — a fight that he immediately asked supporters to help pay for.

Other candidates have sparred with officials over how they’ll be portrayed on the ballot, including Newsom himself, over whether he would be identified as a Democrat, with a “D” next to his name (he won’t). Kevin Faulconer, seen as the top Republican in the race, would like to be identified as the “retired” mayor of San Diego, which he is, but the ballot lists current roles.

So who else is on the candidate list?

The broad consensus so far is that there is no Arnold Schwarzenegger, a unifying force for Republicans in 2003.

Of the 41 candidates, 21 are listed as Republicans. Many are listed as entertainers or businesspeople.

There’s Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympian and reality television star. There’s Kevin Paffrath, a YouTube personality who is suing the state to include his online nickname on the official ballot. Kevin Kiley — the state legislator who emerged as a chief antagonist of the governor — recently announced he would join the race and is now on the list.

Also on the list is John Cox, the businessman who lost to Newsom in 2018 by a wide margin. You might better remember him as the guy who brought a live bear to a campaign event.

Angelyne, the pink Corvette-driving Hollywood denizen, is running without a party preference. Jeff Hewitt, a Riverside County supervisor who has railed against pandemic restrictions, is running as a Libertarian.

Faulconer has tried to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack with more substantive policy plans. His run, political experts say, is more likely an effort to get Californians more familiar with his name ahead of a run for governor in the regular election next year.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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