California Democrats may have been second guessing their strategy of dissuading experienced party members from running in the recall election when minimum wage-hating conservative radio host Larry Elder took the lead in a recent poll. A recent tally from SurveyUSA, however, shows unknown Democrat Kevin Paffrath leading the 46 hopefuls with 27 percent of the vote, leading Elder by four points. Which begs the question: Kevin who?
Paffrath is a 29-year-old real estate investor out of Ventura whose “Meet Kevin” YouTube channel boasts 1.68 million followers and enough get-rich tutorials to rival any 3 a.m. infomercial star of the 1990s. And, as befits the top candidate for the governorship of the nation’s most populous state, Paffrath has ideas.
One of just nine Democrats hoping to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom on September 14, Paffrath—who came to the states from Germany as an infant and graduated from UCLA—has been a party member since he was 18 and positions himself as a centrist. He’s so centrist, in fact, that conservative boogeyman Ben Shapiro is featured in his introduction video, Southern California News Group reports.
Paffrath’s tax plan has a quasi-conservative flavor, as people wouldn’t pay income tax on the first $250,000 they bring in. His pandemic strategy is also ruggedly individualistic, since he would make all COVID safety measures optional. And while Caitlyn Jenner wants to solve homelessness by sending unhoused people to some of California’s roomier “big, open fields,” Paffrath proposes ordering the National Guard to clear them from the streets within 60 days of his taking office.
On the left hand, the Gyllenhaalish Paffrath favors a version of universal basic income, boosting solar and wind farms, and supports marriage equality and higher pay for teachers. The money for all this could be hard to come by since, according to Paffrath’s calculations, there is no $75.7 billion state budget surplus, but he plans to make up for any shortfalls by legalizing gambling.
Some experts aren’t thrilled with Paffrath’s game plan. UCLA law professor Gary Blasi tells East Bay Times, “Unless Mr. Paffrath has magical powers, this is the poorest substitute for a policy on homelessness that I have seen in 38 years of research and work on the topic. What governments can do is limited by the Constitution.” State law, Blasi explains, “does not permit the government to simply round up unhoused people and force them into the only spaces that could be provided within 60 days.”
If elected California’s youngest-ever Governor, Paffrath’s housing plan calls for state control of all building and safety issues, an initiative that UC Irvine law professor Bob Solomon tells the paper is “nothing more than vague promises” because it doesn’t consider the role of local politics, let alone “communities that evade responsibility and actively fight new housing.”
Paffrath has offered to donate $1 million to the charity of Newsom’s choice if the Governor will merely gift him the press bonanza of a lifetime by agreeing to a live, one-on-one, two-hour debate.
Should Newsom decline, Paffrath has other ways of getting his name out there. For instance, he’s been waging a one-man campaign to get Twitter to verify his account.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.