Recall Candidates Slam Newsom, COVID Safety Measures, and Minimum Wage in First Debate

Four Republicans hoping to take over for Gov. Gavin Newsom come September went head to head at the Nixon Presidential Library
351

Four of the Republicans hoping to oust Governor Gavin Newsom in September’s recall election had their first debate Wednesday night at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda. Although the most well-known contenders—reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner and front-runner Larry Elder—were both otherwise engaged, businessman John Cox, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, state assemblyman Kevin Kiley and former congressman Doug Ose were there expressing their views on COVID, Newsom, and the poor. (The recall election is expected to cost taxpayers $215 million.)

Ose offered that the state suffers from people living fat on unemployment checks. “We need to stop paying people to stay home,” he said. “We need those people back to work.”

For those who are working, Cox—who spent millions of his own dollars to lose to Newsom in a 2018 landslide—agreed with Larry Elder that the minimum wage is far too generous.

“The real, true minimum wage,” he calculated, “should be zero. It should be set between the employer and the employee.”

As for California’s homeless, both Cox and Ose said they want to change state law to force people into mental health or addiction treatment if… someone deems it necessary.

When it comes to COVID vaccinations, however, Cox is strictly a “my body, my choice” man. In fact, Cox—who already tested positive for the virus—advised anyone who’s survived the deadly disease to forgo the shots, because he thinks catching the virus renders one COVID-proof. “They don’t need the vaccine,” he said. “They shouldn’t get the vaccine.”

Cox’s weird science contradicts all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the World Health Organization.

Kiley—who said vaccinations are a “personal choice”—likened Newsom’s COVID response to a Hollywood production, saying, “It is a perfect case study for the perversity of California politics, you know, using bright lights and cash giveaways and state control as a mirage for a broken state government that fails to serve California in the most basic way.”

Only Faulconer suggested that vaccination is a wise idea, but shied away from saying the government should do much about it. “Vaccination is how we get our way out of this,” he admitted. “I’m vaccinated, my family’s vaccinated.”

“But,” Faulconer added, “I do not favor mandates, I favor education. You’re not going to mandate your way out of the coronavirus.”

He also came close to distancing himself from Trump, saying, “What happened on January 6 was abhorrent to our country…wrong in every way imaginable.”

That, too, was quickly walked back: “What Gavin Newsom wants to do is to make this all about Donald Trump… I’ve been very upfront about how it’s not about partisanship, it’s about leadership.” He also declared he would accept Trump’s endorsement or “the support of any Republican or Democrat who wants to get rid of Gavin Newsom.”

Cox, meanwhile, claimed he already had an endorsement of sorts—from Larry Elder.

“I was on his show a lot in 2018,” he recalled. “He said I would be a great governor.”


Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.