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California recall election: A look at the frontrunners

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Posted at 1:36 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 16:38:01-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — With the California gubernatorial recall election approaching, eligible voters across the state are already considering whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, and if so, who to replace him.

Among the list of 47 candidates, an ABC 10News/Survey USA poll from early August showed six candidates are among the lead by voters polled: Democrat Kevin Paffrath (27%) and Republicans Larry Elder (23%), John Cox (10%), Kevin Faulconer (5%), Caitlyn Jenner (4%), and Kevin Kiley (3%).

Here's a look at these candidates and their arguments for why they should be the next governor of California.

The order of the statements was placed alphabetically and statements have been provided by candidates to the California Secretary of State's Office. Though a statement wasn't provided to the CA SOS, as leading candidates in recent polling, we've included links to websites for John Cox and Kevin Paffrath.

John Cox (Republican) | Website

No statement was provided to the Secretary of State's Office. We've included a link to his website.

Larry A. Elder (Republican) | Website

"What's happening to our California? To my WWII Marine dad, an 8th grade dropout, California was truly the Golden State. He arrived after the War and worked two full time janitorial jobs. California's then healthy economy enabled him to buy a home and, with my stay-at-home mom, raise three boys. That home is now worth $600,000, a nightmare for any young family struggling with today's cost of living, and striving to follow my dad's upward path. Stopping California's war on the middle class demands reducing the regulations driving up housing costs and sending jobs to other states. Los Angeles public schools empowered me to an Ivy League university and then law school. Today, very few of the students attending my former inner city high school are proficient at math. As Governor, I will expand charter schools and crusade for school choice, igniting competition to deliver excellence in K–12 education. It can be done! How can California have record budgets and tax hikes . . . and yet pervasive homelessness? I pledge to overhaul our budgetary process, repeal the latest gas tax hike, and work with faith and nonprofit organizations to lift up our homeless brothers and sisters. I also will support true criminal justice reform, while opposing no-bail for repeat offenders and wholeheartedly backing police and prosecutors in the fight to end California's crime wave. I'm not an elitist power hungry politician. I'm humbled to ask for your vote. I am an optimist. Let's make California golden again!"

Kevin L. Faulconer (Republican) | Website

"I believe California is home to the smartest, most innovative, hardest-working people in the world. Unfortunately our state government has failed us. Year after year, Sacramento politicians make California more expensive and less safe. They make it harder to earn a good living, buy a home, start a business, and retire. We need new ideas. Real solutions. Trusted experience. As San Diego mayor, I reformed government and focused on the basics: successfully reducing homelessness, balancing budgets, increasing police funding, fixing streets—without raising taxes. As governor, I will: Clean up unsafe homeless tent encampments with the compassionate but firm approach proven to work in San Diego. Make California more affordable, starting with the largest middle class tax cut in California history. Keep Californians safe by stopping the early release of violent criminals and enforcing our laws. Prioritize wildfire prevention, tackle our failing electrical grid, and expand water storage—keeping communities safe, power on, and water flowing. Fully reopen schools and reform education to be student-focused and accountable to parents. Support giving parents the power to choose the best school for their child. Reform the DMV and broken unemployment office, making them customer-focused and convenient. Stop wasteful 'bullet trains to nowhere,' improving roads and highways instead. Take on special interests corrupting our government. You deserve to live, work, and retire with dignity in a state that is safe, clean, and affordable. With fresh ideas and new experienced leadership, we can solve California's problems."

Caitlyn Jenner (Republican) | Website

"California has been my home for nearly 50 years. I came here because I knew that anyone, regardless of their background or station in life, could turn their dreams into reality. For the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision. I have been a compassionate and thoughtful disrupter throughout my life, from representing the United States and winning a gold medal at the Olympics to helping advance the movement for equality. As governor, I will fight for families, protect our children, and ensure businesses can thrive again. We have seen the cost of living skyrocket, leading to homelessness and soaring gas prices. This isn't the California we know. We can do better and I am the only candidate who can take on these challenges. I'll veto any new tax increase, any effort to defund the police, and I'll veto any effort to strip our veterans and first responders of the benefits or dignity they've earned."

Kevin Kiley (Republican) | Website

"California used to be the state where anyone could get ahead. It's now the state many can't wait to leave behind. For the sake of the state we love, I'm asking voters to take a chance on change. Five years ago, I ran for the Legislature as an outsider. I had taught high school in inner-city Los Angeles, prosecuted cases against violent felons, and defended the Constitution in our courts. Since taking office, I've fought to root out corruption at the State Capitol. I'm the only lawmaker who refuses all special interest funding. I've declined the annual $40,000 allowance and turned down a pay raise. I've acted to end perks like a private DMV office for legislators. I've authored groundbreaking legislation on freedom of speech, public safety, school choice, criminal justice reform, and artificial intelligence. Yet I've also seen that our state government is fundamentally broken. Our Capitol is rife with corruption. Our political leaders serve special interests rather than the public interest. It's why we pay the highest gas taxes while driving over the deepest potholes. It's why we spend billions more on homelessness as the problem gets worse. In California, we sacrifice the most and get the least in return. The people of California deserve better. If elected, I will immediately call a Special Session of the Legislature to address our failing schools, soaring cost of living, rising crime rates, and jarring homelessness. It's time to get back to basics and restore integrity to state government."

Kevin Paffrath (Democrat) | Website

No statement was provided to the Secretary of State's Office. We've included a link to his website.

See more detailed data from our ABC 10News/Survey USA poll here.