The Not-So-Short List

RECALL 411-By 5 p.m. Friday, would-be candidates to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom were asked to put up — in the form of filing fees or signatures and five years worth of tax returns that were posted Sunday — or shut up. 

According to the list published Saturday night by the Secretary of State, 41 have put up.  

The crop of California recall hopefuls come in many different flavors, write CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall and Sameea Kamal. There are seasoned politicians (former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer), self-funders (2018 GOP loser John Cox), headline-grabbing celebrities (notably Caitlyn Jenner), a phalanx of activists from both the left and the right and a long list of regular (and maybe not so regular) Joes and Jills.  

There was also at least one notable absence. 

Conservative radio host Larry Elder (pictured above), who announced his candidacy last week and who has already raised $382,000, wasn’t on the Secretary of State’s list. On Sunday, the robe-swaddled Elder assured his supporters that the list “was not certified” and that he expected to be on the finalized roster due out Wednesday.  

The Secretary of State’s office responded Sunday night, releasing a letter —which spokesperson Joe Kocurek said the office sent to the Elder campaign on Saturday — that the campaign had submitted “incomplete” tax returns, a new requirement

Elder released a statement on Twitter shortly thereafter, accusing the state’s chief election officer of “using shenanigans that they invented to block the doors to the Governor’s Office.” (21 Republicans successfully qualified).  

Elder also threatened to sue if his name isn’t placed back on the candidate list this morning. 

Though eight of the candidates are Democrats, Newsom isn’t getting any well-known challengers from within his own party. That makes it easier for the governor to keep his coalition united. But there’s a risk that all the big GOP names on the ballot will contribute to what is already a significant enthusiasm gap between left- and right-of-center voters. 

Where Newsom’s advantage is undisputed is money. 

So far, according to CalMatters’ newly updated campaign finance tracker, the pro-recall committees have raised roughly $5 million. Eight candidates, fundraising for their own campaign coffers, have raised more than $100,000, pulling in a total of $7.4 million (though $5 million is from Cox’s own pocket).  

Meanwhile, Team Newsom has taken in a whopping $31 million. 

Even more ballot drama: Real estate YouTuber Kevin Paffrath may go by “Meet Kevin” on social media, but evidently state election officials do not consider that to be a “bona fide nickname” and do not plan to include it on the ballot. 

Paffrath said he plans to sue.


(Ben Christopher overs California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state’s economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written for San Francisco magazine, California magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Priceonomics. Ben also has a past life as an aspiring beancounter: He has worked as a summer associate at the Congressional Budget Office and has a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.