In summary

GOP Assemblymember Kevin Kiley became the latest challenger to officially throw his hat into the ring — and he boasts backing from a key recall organizer.

Ten days.

That’s how much time Californians who want to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom have to declare their candidacy in the quickly approaching recall election. On Tuesday, Assemblymember Kevin Kiley became the latest challenger to officially throw his hat into the ring — about a month after the Rocklin Republican first announced he was exploring a run for governor. Kiley — who emerged as one of Newsom’s chief antagonists amid the pandemic — will likely join former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer as one of the more serious candidates in a race that currently includes at least 55 potential contenders, many of whom are random citizens.

Kiley, who’s endorsed by lead recall organizer Orrin Heatlie, has long been involved in the effort to oust Newsom from office. In addition to contributing nearly $11,000 to the recall campaign, he embarked on a statewide tour earlier this year to promote his book, “Recall Newsom: The Case Against America’s Most Corrupt Governor.” With GOP Assemblymember James Gallagher of Yuba City, Kiley sued Newsom in an attempt to limit his pandemic emergency powers. Though a superior court initially ruled in favor of Kiley and Gallagher, an appeals court overturned the ruling — prompting the two legislators to recently ask the California Supreme Court to reconsider the case.

Kiley told me Tuesday that as governor, he would work to root out the influence of wealthy interest groups in the Capitol and consider calling a special session of the Legislature to focus on education reform or housing affordability.

  • Kiley: “In the next couple of months … we have a real opportunity to focus, to deliberate as a state about our future and to ask why is it that we sacrifice the most in California and we get the least in return?”

While prospective candidates face a time crunch, Newsom is staring down a deadline of his own: Friday marks the first hearing in his lawsuit against Secretary of State Shirley Weber over putting his Democratic Party affiliation on the Sept. 14 recall ballot. On Tuesday, recall candidate Caitlyn Jenner filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, arguing that Weber — a Newsom appointee — “likely will not mount a robust, good-faith defense against Newsom’s request for preferential treatment.”


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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Tuesday, California had 3,719,674 confirmed cases (+0.2% from previous day) and 63,238 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.

California has administered 41,996,883 vaccine doses, and 59.6% 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.


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1. Chen announces controller bid

Longtime Republican policy adviser Lanhee Chen announced he’s running for California state controller. Photo by Charles Dharapak, AP Photo

Another Republican zeroing in on statewide office in California: Lanhee Chen, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and former policy adviser for big GOP figures including George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio who also served on a bipartisan commission in the Obama administration. Chen on Tuesday announced plans to run for California state controller in 2022, when Democrat Betty Yee terms out. Though the GOP hasn’t won a statewide office in California since 2006, experts say Chen — the son of Taiwanese immigrants and a frequent guest on national talk shows — could help the party turn a new page as it seeks to define itself post-Trump. But Chen will still have to contend with the might of the California Democratic Party, which will likely throw its weight behind Malia Cohen, a member of the state Board of Equalization who plans to run for controller in 2022.

  • Chen: “It’s about making the case to people that we need a check and balance in Sacramento.” For controller, “you want someone who’s willing to call balls and strikes, who isn’t part of the one-party monopoly, who isn’t just there to look after everyone else’s political career.”

As California’s chief fiscal officer, the controller is responsible for overseeing the state’s money, auditing the use of state funds, paying state workers and serving on numerous financial oversight boards, among other duties.

2. A bloody holiday weekend

Image via iStock

Fourth of July weekend was marked by euphoric celebrations across California — but it was also marred by deadly violence. At least 16 people were killed in Los Angeles between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, while Oakland police on Sunday responded to seven shootings, two deaths and a huge sideshow in what the chief called “12 hours of nonstop chaos.” Another person was killed and three others injured during a suspected gang shooting at a Santa Rosa illegal fireworks gathering on Monday. The staggering number of killings suggests that California has not yet crested the wave of violence that began growing amid the pandemic, resulting in a 31% increase in homicides from 2019 to 2020 and the state’s highest homicide rate since 2008. The surge in violent crime has already prompted some California cities to amend their proposals to slash police budgets in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

  • Najee Ali, a Los Angeles community activist: “This has been the worst uptick in violence I’ve seen in my lifetime. … I’m someone who called for the realignment of resources, but we never called for the police to be removed from South LA.”

3. Will CA regulate debt settlement industry?

Graciela Gomez, who set up an account with a debt settlement company, looks out the window from her boyfriend’s home in South Gate, on June 28, 2021. Photo by Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters

Though California is helping pandemic-stricken residents pay off rental and utilities debt, it hasn’t taken similar measures to neutralize personal debt racked up via credit cards and medical bills — and the Golden State’s largely unregulated debt settlement industry is expecting to see a 75% surge in account enrollment, CalMatters’ Erika Paz reports. Debt settlement companies promise to help reduce personal debt by negotiating with banks and credit card companies on the customer’s behalf, but advocates say protections are needed to prevent them from taking advantage of financially desperate Californians. State lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would increase regulation of the industry, reviving a perennial debate over whether alternative financial services — like payday loans, debt settlement and credit repair — are predators or a needed lifeline for Californians with little or poor credit.


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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: The billionaire Koch brothers won a duel against California when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a regulation aimed at forcing their nonprofit political group to reveal its donors.

Burdensome proposal would stall UC construction: The Legislature should reject a bill that would stop the UC from moving ahead with badly needed projects unless it submits to a costly process sought by one union, argue Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education.

Turning the tide on access: Lawmakers should expand the number of seats on the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board to ensure equitable access to decision-making in Madera and Fresno counties, write Destiny Rodriguez of The Climate Center and Andrew Escamilla of the California League of Conservation Voters.


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Other things worth your time

California mothers may not return to work until school starts. // CalMatters

Mayor Breed was praised for her COVID response. Now she’s confronting the city’s other problems. // San Francisco Chronicle

She was a watchdog over Los Angeles politicians. But they had power over her raise. // Los Angeles Times

California delays considering supervised sites for drug use. // Associated Press

California’s Project Homekey transforms Fresno’s Motel Drive. // CalMatters

After a year in their own beds, where will San Francisco’s most vulnerable homeless women go? // San Francisco Chronicle

Pushed out: Los Angeles’ unhoused women. // LAist

Britney Spears’s conservatorship nightmare. // New Yorker

Almonds swept California farms. Then the water ran out. // Wall Street Journal

Southern California’s first immigrant trail getting new attention. // Daily News

U.S. Capitol Police to open California office. // Los Angeles Times


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Emily Hoeven writes the daily WhatMatters newsletter for CalMatters. Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco Business...