🗳 Decision 2021: California Gubernatorial Recall Election Analysis

It’s been a year, hasn’t it. In many parts of the country, we have a segment of the populace who refused to accept the results of the 2020 election. They are conducting post-certification audits and waving their hands in the direction of various made-up conspiracies to change the results of the 2020 election (won’t happen), and attempting to manipulate voting rules to ensure they win future elections (we need to fight that — everyone who is legally entitled to should be able to vote, and vote without impediments being put in their way).

Here in California, a certain segment of the state (what I would call the “State of Jefferson” — the rural and conservative portions of the state) is also fighting an election. They are trying to change the results of our last Gubernatorial election through use of the recall process. There is a low threshold of signatures required to initiate a recall, and they were able to reach it. As a result, we have this special election, taking place on September 14 and wasting $276 million of the state’s money (which could be used towards more important things, like emergency firefighting). But we have a ballot, and that ballot requires analysis. So let’s dig in, shall we?

Question 1: Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled?

❌ No.

Look, Gavin Newsom isn’t perfect. He does boneheaded things, like the French Laundry incident. He screws up getting his affiliation right on the ballot, and fails to ensure there is a strong viable Democrat on the ballot as a potential replacement in case he is recalled. That’s overconfidence, and that’s a problem.

But he also led this state through the Pandemic, and left us with a surplus. He has picked good people to run the state agencies. He hasn’t done anything that is majorly problematic or created legal issues. He should be allowed to finish his term. We can look to replace him at the next General election in 2022, for a term starting in 2023.

Recalls should be reserved for major malfeasance. Ideally, recalls shouldn’t be required at all; the legislature should be responsive enough to impeach if there is major malfeasance. Recalls emphatically should not be used because a minority of voters don’t like the fact they are a minority of voters.

Question 2: Who should replace Gavin Newsom, if he is recalled?

This is a much harder question. We have a field of 46 candidates, mostly unknown. The ones that are well known have other major problems. Let’s see if we can winnow them down.

Republicans (Over Half the List – 24):

There are 23 Republicans on the ballot: Ose, Killens, Kiley, Trimino, Faulconer, Furin, Newman, Gallucci, Gaines, Jenner, Zacky, LeRoux, Lozano, Lodge, Martinez, Mercuri, Bramante, Hillberg, Elder, Cox, Wildstar, Stephens, Stoner, Symmon. Some are well known politically, such as Faulconer, Elder, and Cox. Some are kooks, but well known, such as Jenner. The rest are unknowns, driven more than anger than anything else.

If we had a real moderate, non-Trumpublican, on the ballot — like Schwartzenegger or former LA Mayor Dick Riorden, that might be one thing. But this bunch? They all subscribe to various Trumpublican theories:

  • Doug Ose: Although he has carefully scrubbed his website of Trump references and dog-whistles, Ose was a major supporter of Trump in 2016. Although he has accepted the 2020 results, he also refuses to blame Trump for his part in the violence on Jan 6.  He ran for Governor in 2018 and lost. Nope.
  • Chauncey Killens: Still supports Trump, and participated in the Jan 6 attack on the capitol. His personal website (he doesn’t have a campaign website) says that he wants “to change the cultural atmosphere to a Christian worldview”. Nope.
  • Kevin Kiley: Sued Newsom over COVID19 restrictions and led the recall effort against him. He has fought vaccine passports, which encourages falsified results and endangers public health. Kiley’s agenda includes a move away from mask and vaccine requirements, and education policies that favor charter schools and a school voucher program. Nope.
  • Anthony Trimino: Trimino’s Instragram unveils some interesting nuggets: He’s against mask mandates (tying them to freedom); thinks mask and vaccine mandates are Socialism (showing he doesn’t understand what he is saying). Nope.
  • Kevin L. Faulconer: One of the few R’s with name recognition, as the former mayor of San Diego. He’s been touted as one of the strongest Republicans in the field. He also voted for Trump in 2020, and has a horrible record as mayor of San Diego. He does support vaccines. Still, I’m not sure I could vote for someone that voted for Trump.
  • Rhonda Furin: She’s retweeting posts about how the Arizona election was stolen and other conspiracy theories. She echoes the “socialism” theory of folks like AOC. Her campaign focus is education, but her embrace of conspiracies makes her a “Nope”.
  • Robert C. Newman II:  Ran for Governor in 2010. He is anti-abortion, and very much a “get off my lawn” type. He’s also a kook: “Digest this, nothing is new to the Creator, God. And off road vehicles and their use were known to Him long before the wheel was invented. God even knows habit and niche of the species of concern.” Nope.
  • Sam L. Gallucci:  He’s a senior pastor and founder of a ministry.  I don’t think pastors should, in general, be state executives. Other than that, he hasn’t said much. But being a pastor is enough of a problem. Nope.
  • Ted Gaines: He supports Prop 13, and wants to change voting rules. He is against mask mandates.  He was a delegate for Trump. Nope.
  • Caitlyn Jenner: First and foremost: I could care less that she is trans. That’s the least problematic aspect of her candidacy. She supports vaccines, but is against mandates. She has pledged to support Trump if he makes another bid for the White House. Nope.
  • Leo S. Zacky: Central valley farmer, and heir to Zacky Farms, but has no positions on his website. Political neophyte. I can’t really find positions on his website or the web, or history. His use of the word “patriot”, however, makes me think of a dogwhistle. Nope.
  • Jenny Rae Le Roux: Wants optional vaccination and masks. No mandates to encourage vaccination. She has some interesting dog-whistles to the white supremacy crowd: “I will deprioritize courses that teach young children one-sided ideologies.” Viewing an honest view of history as a “one-sided ideology” makes her a “Nope”.
  • David Lozano:  Wants 100% full health care coverage (good). Badly designed website. Has run for the House twice and lost. Appears to have donated to Trump. Not impressed enough.
  • Steve Chavez Lodge: Fiance of ‘Real Housewives’ star Vicki Gunvalson. Focuses on corrections. Supports Prop 13. OC Weekly has a great line: “Steven Chavez Lodge, a former dirty Santa Ana cop, is the grandest farce of Anaheim’s first go at district elections. The Republican is carpetbagging his way to city council, asking residents to really believe he’s a full-timer at the Azul apartments in West Anaheim (Betcha he never had a potato taco from El Patio in his life!). But the true hilarity of Lodge’s council bid comes from his supporters, from an anti-immigrant campaign consultant to a Trump lover!” Nope.
  • Diego Martinez: His For/Against on his campaign home page have some interesting signaling: ✔ 2nd Amendment; ✔ Life; ✔ Freedom; ✔ Police [translation: pro-guns, anti-abortion; against masks and mandates; thin blue line]; ❌ Mandatory Vaccinations; ❌ Defunding Police; ❌ Voter Fraud; ❌ Socialism; ❌ Communism [the latter two are against democrats]. He has supported Trump at a Trump Rally in Turlock. Nope.
  • Daniel Mercuri: Santa Clarita based. From his website: “Socialism, Marxism, and Communistic ideologies are sweeping across the entire country.”. Nope. Republican talking points.  Appears to use black imagery to scare on his website. Supporter of Trump. Shares conspiracy theories on Rumble. Nope.
  • David Alexander Bramante: 100% against vaccine mandates. Opposes vaccine passports. Supports gun rights. Believes “our bodies, our choice” when it comes to masks, but not abortion. Nope.
  • David Hillberg: Actor, no campaign website. Feels put upon for being conservative. Part of Californians for Trump. Nope.
  • Larry Elder: Another well known candidate. Opposes COVID mandates. Does not believe in systematic racism or “defund the police”. Believed Trump deserved 4 more years. Nope.
  • John Cox: The third well known Republican. Ran for Gov in the past and lost. Exploits animals in advertising without consent. Didn’t vote for Trump, but was endorsed by Trump. His website is scant on details and positions.  Opposes vaccine mandates and testing. Nope.
  • Nickolas Wildstar: Ran for mayor of Fresno. His website is a mix of Democratic positions (such as municipal power) and Republican blather (lower taxes, lower regulation). He was a libertarian in the past. Against Trump, but appears to be a conspiracy theorist in the other direction. Can’t take him seriously. Nope.
  • Sarah Stephens: Boy, that family portrait on the cover of her website is scary. Talks about “unhealthy indoctrination in schools”.  Anti-abortion. 2nd amendment supporter. I think she’s anti-vaccine: “Vaccinations should not have to require a reason to skip a vaccine, including philosophical or religious reasons and should be a simple opt out, not required.” Nope.
  • Denver Stoner: No campaign website.  No information I could find.
  • Joe M. Symmon: Kenya-born clergyman. Very religious; his issues page says “The U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights are documents inspired by God.” There’s no much more information

So, looking at the Republicans as a whole, there are some common mantras. Lower taxes. Cut regulation. Stop “indoctrination” in the schools (no one is pro-“indoctrination”, but presenting the truth is not indoctrination). Support guns. Eliminate the ability to get abortions. None of this I agree with. I can’t really support the Republican candidates at all.

The Minor Parties: Green (2) and Libertarian (1)

There are three candidates in this group, although arguably Wildstar should also be Libertarian:

  • Dan Kapelovitz (Green): Bernie Supporter. Strongly progressive. Supports ranked-choice voting. Strongly pro-vaccine and pro-public health. Opposes the recall. I like his platform a lot. A possibility.
  • Heather Collins (Green): No campaign website. Beauty salon owner. Seems to be upset at the regulations in her industry. One note. Nope.
  • Jeff Hewitt (Libertarian): Riverside County Supervisor. Moss-backed old fart, based on “One trick that really pokes me in the gizzard is…”.  Supported Joe Jurgenson (Libertarian).  Has some interesting policies, but I’m not sure whether I believe the smaller government mantra as much. Not my cup of tea at the present time.

Of these three, I like Kapelovitz the best.

No Party Preference (10)

I’m doing this group next because this is where the real kooks and nuts show up.

  • Major Singh: Sikh. Wants the recall. Has no positions on his website. Next.
  • Kevin K. KaulBusinessman. Indian. Bad website with no positions. Next.
  • Dennis Richter:  No candidate website. Socialist workers party. Next.
  • Michael LoebsCalifornia National Party. This party has standard progressive positions with one interesting plank: “Protect and expand California’s existing autonomy with increasing moves toward true sovereignty.” Sorry, at this time I can’t support that. Next.
  • Denis Lucey: No campaign website. Voters Edge notes his top three priorities are (1) 50% Child Custody Rights to all Competent Parents (2) Native Californian involvement in all Environmental Issues (3) Stop Parental Alienation and Childhood Divorce Trauma. Seems one note. Next.
  • Jeremiah Marciniak:  No campaign website, although he does use YouTube. Doesn’t strike me as a serious candidacy. Next.
  • David Moore: No campaign website. Socialist Equality Party. Next.
  • Angelyne: I’m sorry, but this seems like a PR stunt. From the site: “CA shall implement an annual masquerade ball for people to dress up like a governor!” Next.
  • James G. Hanink: American Solidarity Party. Strongly “pro-life” and against gay marriage. Some other pro-social justice positions, but on the whole… Next.
  • Adam Papagan: “Regular guy”. No real positions, other than attacking homelessness and taxing billionaires. Tour guide. Seems to be a PR stunt.

None of these candidates seem worthy of support.

Democrats (9):

Gavin Newsom convinced any Democrat with a name not to run, as he was so confident that the recall would win. That was a boneheaded move. He should have had his Lt. Gov. run as a backup. But we’ve got who we’ve got.

  • Patrick Kilpatrick: Former actor. His personal webpage is … strange. Wants to lower taxes. Pushes for bringing back the film/TV business. Secure borders. Highway expansion at grid checkpoints (how?). He doesn’t say how he will do any of this. He doesn’t mention COVID. I don’t think he understands the politics and complexity of the state. Next.
  • Joel Ventresca:  Berniecrat. Standard Bernie-crat positions (which aren’t bad). Administrator at SFO, and ran for mayor of SF. Pro-Recall. I’m lukewarm about this guy. Is there someone better?
  • Brandon M. Ross. MD and Attorney. Does not believe in a mask mandate (👎🏼). Would not mandate vaccines, allowing people to opt out for any reason (👎🏼). Wants to drastically cut taxes.  Political neophyte. Not congruent with his ideas.
  • Jacqueline McGowan: States her position as a cannabis policy advisor. Good positions on COVID (all have access to vaccine, mandatory for state employees once there is final FDA approval, mask mandates). Good homelessness and housing advocacy positions. A bit pro-cannabis.  Not sure she could win.
  • Holly L. Baade: Personal health and wellness guide. Reading her background: Far too much flakes and nuts.
  • John R. Drake:  Has good positions on the issues. Seems very young. No political background. Just graduated community college this year.
  • Kevin Paffrath: You-Tube Star. 29-year-old former real estate broker, who earned $10 million on You-Tube. Supports recall. Reading through his positions, they are interesting but unrealistic.
  • Armando Perez-Serrato: His positions sound more Republican. Nope.
  • Daniel Watts: Free speech lawyer. That’s about it.

Shit. I was hoping the Democrats would give me someone to work with. The best of the bunch is Joel Ventresca.


The recall better fail, or California is screwed until 2023. Luckily, the Governor can’t do much on his own if the legislature is against him, but the works are going to be gummed up. For those who are against the recall, the best choice in case the recall happens is… between Dan Kapelovitz (Green) and Joel Ventresca (Democratic). Both have good positions and training. Ventresca has slightly better experience, but Kapelovitz is more in tune with the bulk of California.

Reluctant conclusion: ✔ Dan Kapelovitz (Green). But vote NO on the recall.