In summary

Forty-one candidates have qualified for the recall election. Radio host Larry Elder is likely to sue to be No. 42.

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, 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.


The coronavirus bottom line: As of Saturday, California had 3,748,365 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 63,598 deaths (+0.1% from previous day).

California has administered 42,919,691 vaccine doses, and 61.2% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.


Podcast: CalMatters reporter Rachel Becker joins the podcast to talk about how California’s drought impacts various communities: “It’s a patchwork of experiences, and it’s a patchwork of pain.”  You’ll also hear what the state is doing about it on the latest California State of Mind episode.


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1. A first test for Bonta — and police oversight law

Image via iStock

Shortly after Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a man brandishing a fake gun on a busy stretch of Hollywood Boulevard, investigators from a new California Department of Justice unit arrived on the scene.

That may not sound unusual — when someone is killed, law enforcement tends to investigate. But in fact, this was a first.

A law passed in 2020 requires the state attorney general to investigate any incident in which a police officer shoots and kills an unarmed civilian

Attorney General Rob Bonta, whom Newsom plucked out of the state Assembly in March to serve as the state’s top cop, knows all about the law. He was a co-author.

During his confirmation hearing, Bonta said he welcomed the opportunity to investigate police shootings — a notable break from his predecessor, Biden’s Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra, who was more reluctant to tangle with cops and local prosecutors.

When Bonta announced earlier this month the formation of new investigatory units tasked with investigating these incidents, he emphasized that he looked forward to working alongside local law enforcement and prosecutors. 

But if push comes to shove…

  • Bonta: “I’m honestly not expecting a lot of pushback or tension or obstacles. We will be prepared for any that do arise and we will fulfill our obligations under (the law).”

More crime news: Two north Bay Area men were charged with plotting to blow up the California Democratic Party headquarters.

2. How Newsom stacks up on health care

Members of the California Nurses Association and supporters rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento calling for a single-payer health plan on June 28, 2017. When running for governor in 2018, Gavin Newsom vowed to implement single payer healthcare and the pressure is mounting to make good on that promise. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo

On the campaign trail and during his first months in office, Newsom made big, bold promises on health care: Lower drug costs, a master plan to care for aging Californians and state-funded single-payer health insurance program for all, to name a few.

So how’s that all been going?

Not so well, writes CalMatters health reporter Ana Ibarra. 

Part of that is thanks to the pandemic, which interrupted many of the governor’s major policy plans and changed the political calculus around health policy.

But there’s also the hard reality that many of the governor’s policy pledges — particularly his willingness “to tackle” single-payer — always faced exceptionally long odds. 

  • Democratic Sen. Richard Pan: “Everyone says, ‘Oh yeah, no problem it should be easy to get Democrats or progressives to vote for taxes,’ but this is also the land of Prop. 13.”

3. New tuition hikes may be coming for UC — this year and forever

Image via iStock

The University of California Board of Regents is set to vote Thursday on whether to increase tuition next year. And the next year. And the next year. 

UC leaders say the new tuition scheme, two years in the planning, will bring much-needed stability to a system beset for years by gyrating finances and a long-term decline in its share of funding from the state. 

CalMatters higher education reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn has the details: The new plan would hike tuition on a regular basis, tying annual increases to inflation. But tuition would be locked in for each incoming class, so that students and their families can better predict their future education costs.

The possible increase comes at a politically touchy time for UC, which has only voted to hike the price tag on students once in the last decade. 

No surprise, student groups don’t welcome the change.

But the plan has also garnered some opponents in high places. Both Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Speaker Pro Tem Toni Atkins, both Democrats, told Mikhail they’re calling for a no vote. Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is also opposed.

  • Atkins: “This year has been difficult enough for so many Californians.”

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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Gov. Gavin Newsom repeatedly chants that California is “roaring back” from the pandemic, but he ignores the state’s most stubborn problems.

Tough shakes: Hospital lobbyists want to delay vital seismic upgrade rules. Lawmakers shouldn’t let them, writes Cathy Kennedy, president of the California Nurses Association.


Other things worth your time

Bay Area counties call for indoor masking again // San Francisco Chronicle

The four mega-donors backing a criminal justice overhaul in California // Politico

Can Napa wine survive climate change? // New York Times

West prepares for a “multiday, multi-region classic monsoon-burst ignition event” // Washington Post

Why are California’s coastal cliffs collapsing? // The Atlantic

Death of two whales near San Diego prompts Navy to review training protocol // LAist

L.A. sheriff refuses to enforce new mask mandate // CBS News

“This land is your land (but it’s not your living room)”: Sofa, beer cans left in the mountains // Sacramento Bee


See you tomorrow.

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Ben Christopher

Ben covers 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...