Governor Gavin Newsom Recall Voter Guide

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Why is it important to vote “no” in this recall? This is going to be a very low turnout election, which means a few motivated Republican voters will be able to recall Governor Newsom if enough Democrats sit it out.

What’s the worst that could happen? The Democratic Party didn’t offer any viable alternative candidates. So if the recall goes through, one of the Republican candidates on the ballot will become California’s governor — and some of them are Trump supporters.

What can you do? The ballot will consist of only two questions. Be sure to answer both:

  • Should Governor Newsom be recalled? No.
  • Who should replace Governor Newsom if he is recalled? Pick one of the least problematic candidates on the list. That might be Kevin Paffrath, Kevin Faulconer, or Kevin Kiley, but you need to decide for yourself (see comparison table below).

Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled?

❌ No on Recall Gavin Newsom

Do not recall Governor Gavin Newsom Governor Gavin Newsom isn't perfect, and we've been disappointed with his lack of leadership on housing, homelessness, and the environment. But every other option in the recall is worse.

You should VOTE NO on the recall.

If recalled, who should replace Gavin Newsom?

While GrowSF does not endorse any of the candidates on the ballot, we want to help you make an informed backup choice. Here's a brief description of the top-polling candidates:

Kevin Paffrath

Registered Democrat

Kevin Paffrath is a 'landlord youtuber' and registered Democrat who has zero political experience and has never held office. Paffrath says he will use emergency powers and the national guard to build homeless shelters and other housing. Paffrath opposes both mask and vaccine mandates.

Kevin Faulconer

Moderate Republican

Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, is the former mayor of San Diego, where he served two terms. He was elected in a majority-Democratic city and worked across the aisle with the Democratic-controlled city hall to legalize new high-density housing, build homeless shelters, decrease homelessness by 12%, and support the rights of LGBTQ people. Faulconer opposes both mask mandates and vaccine mandates, though he is pro-vaccine and thinks everyone should get it.

Kevin Kiley

Conservative Republican

Kevin Kiley is a conservative Republican who currently holds office in the State Assembly. He sits on the Housing and Community Development committee, where he voted in favor of legalizing 4-plexes state-wide, among other committees. Kiley co-authored SB50 with Senator Scott Wiener, which would have legalized apartments near transit, statewide. Kiley opposes both mask and vaccine mandates.

Larry Elder

Right-Libertarian

Larry Elder is currently in first place and is a right-wing talk radio host who wants to ban abortions, abolish gun regulations, abolish the IRS, and end welfare. If you just vote No on the recall without voting for a backup option, he'll be our next governor. Elder opposes both mask and vaccine mandates.

John Cox

Conservative Republican

John Cox (you know... the guy with the bear) is polling in second place. He is a conservative Republican who ran for governor in 2018 with a platform of building a border wall and banning abortion, and was endorsed by President Trump. Cox opposes both mask and vaccine mandates.

Caitlyn Jenner

Republican

Caitlyn Jenner isn't polling well, but she has a decent shot of winning on name recognition alone. She has zero governing experience, and has pledged to leave the Paris Climate Accords. Jenner opposes mask mandates but has no clear position on vaccines.

IssueKevin PaffrathKevin FaulconerKevin KileyLarry ElderJohn CoxCaitlyn Jenner
PartyDemocraticRepublicanRepublicanRepublicanRepublicanRepublican
IdeologyLandlord YouTuberCenter-rightConservativeRight LibertarianRightRight
Mask MandateAnti state-levelAntiAnti state-levelAntiAntiAnti
Vaccine MandateAnti state-levelAntiAnti state-levelAntiAntiunknown
Pro-vaccine?unknownYesUnclearYesNo?unknown
AbortionunknownPro-choiceAnti-choice?Anti-choiceAnti-choiceunknown
Climate ChangeunknownBelievesBelievesBelieves it's happening, but isn't causing disastersBelievesLeave Paris Accords
Education"Future Schools" for job training for high-income fieldsFunding for summer school, tutoring, healthcare. More choiceEducation savings accounts, vouchers for private shoolsFan of ChartersSupports charters, pay teachers moreunknown
ImmigrationUnclear what he means by "We have a massive immigration problem. Much of this is due to an antiquated “legal” immigration process."Pro-immigrant, wants immigration reform and border securityPunish undocumented immigrants, end Sanctuary StateunknownEnd Sanctuary State, Build border wallPath to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
HousingUse Emergency Powers to build 500k homes per year for 5 years. State control of building and safety codesGenerally YIMBY, but would veto statewide fourplex zoning and opposes ending exclusionary zoningSuspend CEQA and decrease regulations to lower cost of market-rate developmentTacitly supported SB50 but thinks CEQA reform and reducing labor/environmental regulations are more important. Mainly reduce cost of construction.Vague language around "reducing regulations," supports both affordable and market housing
HomelessnessUse the national guard to build shelters and forcibly move people into themSupports building shelters and forcing treatment when available. Decreased homelessness in San Diego as mayorSupports drug & mental illness treatment, job training, and permanent housing for homeless
Institutionalize mentally ill. Says most homeless are "probably alcoholics, mentally ill, or have substance abuse problems". Churches instead of government to serve homeless.
Opposes "housing first," which offers housing regardless of drug, alcohol, or mental health issues. Supports greater enforcement, would ignore 9th Circuit court order requiring shelters be available before clearing encampments
Move homeless to "big open fields"
Tenant ProtectionsAgainstAgainstOpposes rent control
Opposes rent control and likely other tenant protections
unknown
US Senate if Feinstein vacatesunknownunknownWould not make appointment, leave it up to votersunknownunknownunknown
Prior Government Experience?NoYes, former mayor of San DiegoYes, sitting AssemblymemberNoNoNo

How the recall works

How to vote

  • You should have already received a ballot in the mail. Find it, fill it out, and mail it back.
  • Ballots are due in the mail by September 14.
  • You can also vote in person on September 14. If you aren’t registered to vote or didn’t update your address, no problem! California allows same day voter registration and voting. Just show up at a polling location and you can fill out a “Provisional Ballot”.

Governor Newsom needs a simple majority (50% + 1) to survive the recall. If he fails to get a majority, question 2 is what determines who our next governor is.

IMPORTANT: The winner of question 2 only needs to get the most votes, not a majority of votes. If the top vote-getter only gets 10%, they will still become governor. Do not just vote No and leave question two blank. Your vote on question 2 carries more power than usual, so use it.

You can, and should, vote on both questions.

Why aren't any Democratic voter guides suggesting a backup choice?

The Democratic Party does not allow Democratic clubs to endorse anyone who is not a registered Democrat.

While a few registered Democrats appear on the ballot, the Democratic Party did not recruit a viable alternative to Governor Newsom and is telling people to only vote "No" on the recall and leave question two blank. GrowSF thinks this is irresponsible. If Newsom is recalled and Democrats don't vote for a backup option, we are letting others decide who will be the new governor. There are no good choices but some are worse than others.

GrowSF is not controlled by any political interest groups or political parties. We are, and will always be, independent. We are committed to giving you the best advice available and explaining the trade-offs of all of your choices.

Was this guide useful for you?

Subscribe to the GrowSF's mailing list to get future voter guides in your inbox!