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Governor Gavin Newsom speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, June 1, 2019. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

What the Recall Candidates Are Saying About the California Dream

‘The California dream isn’t dead, but it is on life support’

By Thomas Buckley, August 16, 2021 7:15 am

Over the past 40 years, at least, the topic of illegal immigration has played a central role in California politics.

But now the topic of legal out-migration is rearing its depressing head.

Despite attempts by many to either dismiss the problem as minor, or outright deny its existence, more and more Californians have decided to believe what they see with their own eyes and what they hear with their own ears rather than accept either of those head-in-the-sand “explanations.”

To that end, this week’s recall candidate round-up focused on the issue and asked the following two questions:

Q1 – Under Gavin Newsom, California lost a congressional seat for the first time in its history.  What factors – societal, governmental, economic, etc. – do you think have played a role in fueling the out-migration trend?

Q2 – How would you address and reverse the out-migration problem and can the California Dream be saved?

Joel Ventresca:

Q1 – A Public Policy Institute of California Poll between November 4 and 23, 2020 of 2,325 California Adult Residents, less than a year ago, found that 69% think the gap between the rich and the poor is getting larger and 58% think the American Dream in California is harder to achieve. Newsom represents a rigged economic & political system that makes the superrich richer while the rest of us are pushed down the economic ladder.

Joel Ventresca. (Photo: Joel Ventresca for Governor)

Q2 – Restoring, reinventing & reimagining the Golden California Dream is the primary reason I am running to be the next Democratic Governor of California. Advancing groundbreaking opportunity, sustainability & majority electoral support will occur with the implementation of the following progressive platform:

Create just, livable & flourishing California for all.

Enact high quality healthcare & education, cradle-to-grave, for all residents. Raise minimum wage to $16-an-hour. End homelessness, poverty & mass incarceration with comprehensive programs. Pass best tenant protection, civil rights, gun safety & police reform laws in the nation. Increase taxes on wealthy individuals & corporations. Eliminate taxes & fees on small businesses for 5 years. Build large-scale multi-unit permanent affordable housing.

Reverse growing economic inequality & expand economic democracy.

Disempower top 1% economic elite. Empower nonviolent mass movements. Reduce inequities, disparities & the gap between rich & poor. Challenge corporate & tech agendas.  Restructure energy utilities into a full-service consumer-owned statewide public power system that operates efficiently, reliably, sustainably & safely with 15% lower rates. Remake California into the first zero-carbon emissions state in the nation. Cease fracking & oil drilling. Convert to non-nuclear 100% clean renewable energy. Establish free public transit.

Rejuvenate inclusive & diverse participatory democracy.

Remove corrupt influence of private money from politics by mandating 100% publicly-funded candidate campaigns & elections. Prohibit elected representatives from meeting with lobbyists. Halt government waste, fraud, abuse, inefficiency, mismanagement & corruption. Make safety, security, opportunity & well-being accessible to all. Confront bias, discrimination & bigotry.

Kevin Faulconer:

Q1 – People are voting with their feet and leaving California because it simply isn’t affordable to live here anymore. Gavin Newsom keeps raising taxes on the middle class and its forcing families to pack their bags and leave for places like Arizona, Texas, Nevada, and Tennessee where they have lower taxes. This must change if we’re going to restore California’s promise and it won’t be solved by one-time payments, that’s simply not enough. We need real, permanent tax relief to help those who need it most.

Kevin Faulconer at Sacramento press conference. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

People are also leaving because of the dramatic increase in crime we’ve seen in our major cities. Last year we saw a 30 percent increase in homicides. Businesses are closing in places like San Francisco because they can’t keep their employees and customers safe. Gavin Newsom’s lawless agenda is making California unsafe for average people

Q2 – Making California more affordable starts with cutting taxes. I’ve put forward the largest middle class tax cut in California history, which would lower income taxes to zero for individuals earning up to $50,000 and families earning up to $100,000. This would in effect cut taxes for 99 percent of households across California, allowing families to save thousands of dollars annually. This tax cut would pay for 8 months of utilities, 8 months of groceries, or 92 tanks of gas by our estimations.

We also need to make sure we have safe neighborhoods. This means fully funding our police departments, not enabling the “defund the police” agenda as Newsom has done. I made sure in San Diego that our police force made common sense reforms, had proper funding, and received the full support of my administration. I’ll do the same for law enforcement as Governor.

John Cox:

Q1 – California is losing population because the middle class and small businesses cannot afford to live here.  There is every reason in the world for people to want to live here: the weather, culture, beaches, mountains, cities, rural areas, diversity. The fact that people are fleeing this state is an indictment of our government and those who run it.  The middle class and small businesses simply can’t afford to live here anymore.  They see a government that is run by insiders who only look out for themselves. The middle class is working hard, but they see the homeless taking over our streets and crime going up. We have the highest income taxes in the country, housing is unaffordable, and wildfires are out of control. Water and electricity are in short supply.  People are leaving because the career politicians haven’t solved any of these problems and Californians have lost hope that they ever will.  This recall is an opportunity to change that and make government focus on helping regular Californians again.

Recall Candidate John Cox in Los Angeles on May 10, 2021. (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

Q2 – The California Dream can and must be saved. The number one thing we must do to address out-migration is to make California affordable.  That means slashing taxes for families and small businesses. I’m proposing an across-the-board 25 percent income tax cut. It’s the largest tax cut in the history of California. Every family and small business will benefit. In total, we will return $30 billion to the people of California – every single year.  We have also got to make housing more affordable. That means doing away with the misguided policies that are causing our housing shortage and driving up costs. We can do this through zoning reform that currently limits supply. We need to expedite the permit process and reduce the associated fees. And we need to reform CEQA which the special interests abuse to delay, delay, delay housing projects and cause costs to become prohibitive.

After making California more affordable, we also need to make Californians believe that the government is working for them. That’s why I’m going to order an audit of every agency of state government and implement zero based budgeting. We are going to clean up the corruption and make sure that Californians know that the government is working for them. Lastly, we are going to solve the homeless problem and increase public safety.

Doug Ose:

Q1 – Other states know how to provide affordable single-family homes for families. Other states avoid excessive regulatory burdens on employers. California has policies that work to prevent the construction of affordable single-family homes. California has policies that create excessive regulatory burdens on employers.

Slowed population growth is due to policy decisions that existing and potential residents don’t agree with.  Eventually, too much government and the failure to provide a good quality of community persuade existing or potential residents to live elsewhere. Most families want a single-family home. Most employers want less government paperwork. When most families can’t afford a single-family home and when most employers tire of excessive regulatory burdens, families leave and employers either expand in other states or leave, taking jobs with them.

Doug Ose. (Photo: Rebuild-ca.org)

Q2 – I would reverse out-migration by making single family homes affordable and lowering “barriers to entry” for new employers.

Houses can be more affordable by reducing the fees imposed on new single-family residences. In many communities, a homebuilder pays fees exceeding $100,000 per lot. These fees represent cost shifts of society’s needs for roads, traffic signals, parks, libraries, schools, etc., onto the new homeowner. This makes housing more expensive. People and employers have choices. Fees need to come down.

Employers ask: where shall I establish/expand operations? Under the Interstate Commerce Clause, product can be created anywhere and shipped to California. Employers decide where to locate or expand based on potential profit and then do what is best for themselves. Employers consider revenue, cost of insurance, cost of utilities, quality of available employees, cost of labor, regulatory burdens and many other factors. Liability exposures under current California law are compared to other states; cost of electricity in California is compared to other states; etc. If California is to attract and retain new employers, then costs of operation must come down.

The California Dream can be saved. It takes leadership that has a real-world perspective of what families and employers need. Experienced leadership matters.

Michael Loebs:

Q1 – While California’s population declined slightly last year (less than 0.5% of total population), the loss of a congressional seat is more directly the result of the absurd federal system that for over 100 years has set the number of House representatives at an arbitrary 435 members, despite the fact that the U.S. population has tripled since then. The argument that a bigger legislature would be unwieldy is nonsense; since other major democracies function while having larger deliberative bodies, even with smaller populations. More than that, it is the more powerful Senate that approves cabinet members, ambassadors, treaties, and Supreme Court justices. Nothing will fix the structural inequality which gives the 40 million people of the 22 smallest U.S. states 44 senators and California only two, regardless of population changes.

Michael Loebs. (Photo: Michael Loebs for Governor)

We clearly need to address the issues that have forced too many Californians to relocate, but we must recognize first that any decline in California’s influence in the federal legislature is more attributable to these structural factors. Since the 2010 census, California’s population has actually increased, just not as rapidly as other states. We must also ask from where in California people are leaving (such as major urban centers) and where are they going within California, such as rural and inland areas. Both these aspects produce very different issues. As is often the case, approaching this question as a statewide problem misses the important differences in different parts of California.

Q2 – Everyone who wants to stay in California should be able to, but those who have no love for California and come only for profit will always simply follow the money. Our concern should be making sure people who actually care about California can live here, especially working- and middle-class Californians who struggle the most. Housing needs to be more affordable, and the solutions needed to achieve this will be different in different areas. The increasing cost of higher education must end through free community college including vocational training so young Californians do not begin their adulthood with massive debt.  Employment needs to focus on jobs for Californians, not merely in California that get filled by people who care nothing about our home.  We can lower the cost of living through more efficient use of tax revenue and, for many Californians, reducing utility bills by breaking up the abusive, government-backed monopolies such as PG&E, who raise rates to pay for their destructive and failed practices.

Nobody should be forced to leave California, but we must also realize that our investment in infrastructure over the decades has not kept up with our population growth. A pause to breathe and develop the transportation, housing, and other services required for the next generation of Californians is not necessarily a bad thing. We need to live in harmony with this land, not overtax its resources with the belief that unrestrained growth and expansion is always inherently good. The California Dream also means preserving what is unique about California and it can be saved so long as it’s our own vision and not a mere imitation of the American Dream.

Jenny Rae Le Roux:

Q1 – Californians left because they were not free to live, work and breathe.

They Couldn’t Live – California boasts the nation’s highest cost of living. The average house costs over $700,000. We don’t have enough affordable housing, homelessness is rampant, and violent crime is rising.

They Couldn’t Work – I know firsthand how hostile California is towards businesses. Our business fees are 16x higher than other states, burdensome regulations hurt small businesses, and we have the highest income and sales tax in the nation. Now, California has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation.

They Couldn’t Breathe – Smoke fills our skies. We don’t have enough water. Our power grid is unreliable. And no, I’m not describing a nation in the developing world. On top of that, Californians pay the 7th highest electrical rates in the nation.

It is urgent to address these issues to build a California people want to run to, not from.

Jenny Rae Le Roux. (Photo: Jenny Rae Le Roux for Governor)

Q2 – I am running to Free California to Live, Work, and Breathe. My first priority is to reverse California’s population decline. We must make California a place where our people and businesses want to stay, and a state that others want to come to. Every decision I make will be measured one key way: will this cause people and businesses to want to stay in California?

Live – To ensure working-class families can imagine a future in California, I will invest in a world-class education system (preparing kids for the jobs of the future), remove permitting barriers for free-market housing, and support public safety.

Work – I will reduce business fees, ensure taxes are aligned with competitive states, and reduce regulation to a level that protects – not punishes – businesses.

Breathe – I will free California to breathe and reduce emissions by addressing wildfire risk, increasing water storage, and expanding power supply. I will sustainably manage 1M acres of forest per year through thinning, biomass permits, and controlled burns.

Ted Gaines:

Q1 – As the adage goes, the most impactful vote you can cast is with your feet. Too many Californians have sent a clear and unmistakable message: they have had enough. And it’s not difficult to see why.

It’s easy to understand why the middle class would leave a state that has the highest cost of living anywhere in the country, higher every year.

It’s easy to understand why any law-abiding citizen would flee a state with overreaching and brazenly unconstitutional gun control laws that can turn them into criminals overnight.

It’s easy to understand why any business owner would leave a state that can deem their livelihood “non-essential” and shutter their windows indefinitely with the stroke of a pen.

It’s easy to see why any taxpayer would leave a state that takes so much of every dollar earned and squanders it on vanity projects like the failed high speed rail.

It’s easy to understand why any family would leave a state that turns its back on law enforcement while gangs, tent cities, and used syringes fill their streets.

Ted Gaines. (Photo: Ted Gaines)

But there is good news- California doesn’t have to be this state. With the right leadership, we can bring our home back from the brink of chaos and restore what made it a shining beacon in this country.

Q2 – Simply put, we must return common sense to the Capitol. This exodus is plain evidence of the failures of this administration’s policies. Either we move our state in the direction of affordability, or Californians will continue to move in the direction of more affordable states.

Democrats have spent the past decade pushing people out of the state with their backwards policies, and have left those still living here to pick up the bill. This September, the Democrats will be the ones paying for it.

The California dream isn’t dead, but it is on life support. With the right leadership, we will go back to being a state that promotes business, family, and public safety. Together, we will make this state golden again.

Kevin Kiley:

Q1 – We’ve known for some time that our state is in decline. But the COVID era has connected the dots in an unmistakable way: our quality of life is declining because government is failing. In California, we sacrifice the most and get the least in return.

This is because more than any in the nation, our Capitol has fallen captive to powerful special interests. No one personifies this culture of corruption more than Gavin Newsom.

During the pandemic, Newsom used extraordinary emergency powers for personal political gain. Huge no-bid contracts were awarded to his top donors. Powerful interests were exempted from lockdowns as small businesses died in droves. Worst of all, Newsom expelled millions of kids from their classrooms at the behest of his largest campaign funders, the teachers’ unions.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Q2 – The recall is about rooting out corruption and restoring integrity to state government. More than any single policy, it offers a new paradigm for our public life based on decency, service and respect for the people of California.

As governor, I will act immediately to set our state on a new course. On day one, I will end Newsom’s State of Emergency. For every executive action Newsom has taken to violate our rights and diminish our freedoms I will take executive action to restore and defend them. I will tame our overreaching state agencies with a new directive: serve the people of California, don’t try to run their lives.

Unlike Newsom, I will respect the Constitution and separation of powers. I’ll immediately call a Special Session of the Legislature and demand action addressing our core problems: failing schools, homelessness, crime and the cost of living.

The order of the day will be back to basics: Pave our roads, store our water, manage our forests, maintain our grid, fund our police. Do the things government is supposed to do, do them well, and do nothing else. Most importantly, I will restore power to local communities and citizens.

Kevin Paffrath:

Q1 – California’s cracking; the downward inflection point has begun. It’s not too late to restore California’s exceptionalism. However hardworking Californians who pay taxes are bitter – they pay their ultra-high taxes and fees and look up to find their governor squandering our surplus, forgiving traffic tickets; failing to end our water crisis, misleading us on fire prevention, and failing to help end homeless crisis. The governor also fails to address our mental-health crisis, failing k-12 schools, immigration crisis, or make housing more affordable by adding supply. This is why Californians are voting with their feet: businesses and taxpayers are leaving while babies are born and college students come here. This means we’re losing taxpayers and gaining those who don’t pay taxes.

Kevin Paffrath. (Photo: Kevin Paffrath for Governor.)

Q2 – To end the blight of Californians leaving, we must make California competitive and prove to them California IS exception. We do this with our 20-part plan at www.MeetKevin.com

Jeff Hewitt:

Q1 – California lost almost 200,000 people in 2020; That’s businesses, students, and families chased away from our wonderful state. It is my opinion that government overregulation and taxation played the largest factor in this great exodus. It made it so much more attractive to move to a state with a lower tax base and less regulations. The policies in California have made it near impossible for the average family to afford a home, mostly due to a massive housing supply shortage. It costs nearly $100,000 dollars before you can even turn a single shovel of dirt, that’s not concrete, lumber, or labor; that’s just paying multiple government agencies just to have the privilege to build. 

Q2 – To solve the outmigration crisis in California, I would first make it easier to build more housing and drive the cost to build down. We could do this a few ways, modifying CEQA and opening up more area for development would be a great alleviation of the immediate concerns. I would next lower the tax and regulatory burden on small businesses, the largest wealth generator in our economy . Water supply will be the next challenge; This is a long-term solution for a long-term problem. You can’t build new communities without having enough water to serve them. We must fix our decrepit water infrastructure for sustained growth. We want people to come to California for the same reasons they have always come here, the natural beauty, the perfect climate, and the opportunity to thrive through new opportunities and endeavors. 

Larry Elder:

Q1 – Crime, homelessness, out of control cost of living, repressive Covid restrictions, where should I begin? We knew Gavin Newsom was running this beautiful state into the ground, but this proves he’s also running Californians out of the state.

The practical effect of Proposition 47 is more brazen criminals. We’ve all seen the shocking video of thieves walking calmly out of a store with armfuls of stolen goods. Retail stores are limiting their hours because unpunished theft has gotten so out of control. And this is just non-violent crime. Recently, former Senator Barbara Boxer was robbed and assaulted. Even Gavin Newsom had a violent run-in with an aggressive homeless man. If citizens don’t feel safe in their own neighborhoods, why should we be surprised when they leave?

Larry Elder speaking at FreedomFest at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, July 13, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

 We’re also seeing folks leave because of oppressive Covid restrictions injuring our economy and our children. Restrictions are being implemented with no clear indication they’re mandated by science. All of this, plus the added insult of Newsom flaunting the very restrictions he forced upon us.

California is seeing a daunting increase in cost of living and other inflation. We have some of the highest housing, gas, and utility costs in the nation.

The cost of living is unsustainable for regular people. Lower and middle class families are simply unable to thrive here anymore. This is unacceptable.

We must reverse these horrible trends so that California is a welcoming and enjoyable place for families again.

Q2 – As governor, I will bring back law-and-order to the state. Criminals will be held accountable. Soft on crime policies disproportionately hurt black and brown people. I will also support our police officers. They will be valued for the hard-working men and women that the vast majority of them are, and not made out to be systemically racist and consequently, necessarily disposable.

Homelessness in California is a disgrace. Using my emergency powers as governor, I will tackle oppressive regulations on construction to encourage and streamline affordable housing. The California Environmental Quality Act needs to be addressed and reformed. The bureaucratic red tape and threat of lawsuits accompanying it are problematic to say the least. We also need to address mental health and addiction issues which run rampant in our homeless communities. I will ask churches and local organizations, who already do a good job of stepping into the breach, to help lead the way on some of these outreach efforts.

It is time for California to get back to business as usual. The small businesses that survived the draconian lockdowns so far, are on life support. We have a Covid vaccine that scientists have told us is effective. Every adult who wants one can get one. I believe it is up to private businesses and individuals, not the government, to decide for themselves how to deal with masking, vaccines, and other health restrictions.

I absolutely believe the California Dream can be saved. That is why I’m running for Governor!

As usual, we asked the people behind the recall for their thoughts on the issue and Orrin Heatlie of RecallGavin2020.com had this to say:

Q1 – The out-migration of the more middle class, more centrist, even conservative California resident has been changing the state for years.  How did that impact the recall campaign and did it make the signature gathering process more difficult?

The sheer number of middle-class families, businesses and corporations leaving California has had an effect on the overall political landscape within the state. In 2020 alone, the California Policy Center catalogued 50 major corporations who have all left California, taking their jobs and employees and middle-class families with them.  California has been in a steady decline for many years, which was accelerated dramatically once Gov. Newsom took office.  This has had a direct impact on the recall campaign in several ways.  Many people who would have participated in the recall, either through volunteering their time or making donations to help fund the effort have already packed their bags and left the state. However, that being said, those who have either opted to stay or are otherwise stuck here have been very focused and motivated to bring this recall to ballot, for reasons of their own.

Q2 – Come election day, do you think the multiple factors at play in the out-migration issue – crime, regulatory burden, societal changes, etc. – will strongly influence how California votes?

Although the base has been depleted, those who remain in California are more determined to take the actions needed to make California a place worth calling home again. Gavin Newsom’s policies have driven people and corporations from California in numbers greater than ever before.  People are genuinely frustrated and angry with this administration and rightfully so.  Corporations are forced to move to other states, because doing business in California is no longer sustainable for them.   People are having to make life altering decisions to uproot their families, in search of a better way of life elsewhere. Those who are left behind continue to suffer with the highest taxes, highest cost of living, skyrocketing crime and ballooning homeless populations. The failed policies of this administration have done nothing but make matters worse.  Those who remain in California see this special election as a beacon of hope.  It has brought people together from all walks of life, every culture, ethnicity and from the entire political spectrum to participate. They want real solutions to the problems we face and they are demanding a change in leadership. This recall gives them hope for a brighter future because it is something tangible they can do here and now which will have a direct impact on how this state is managed moving forward.

As for the Newsom campaign, we submitted the following two questions:

Q1 – Under your watch, California lost a congressional seat for the first time in its history.  How could you have better addressed the multiple factors at play in the out-migration trend?

Q2 – Either before the vote or after, if you remain in office, what will you do to stem the out-migration tide to ensure the survival of the California Dream?

While the campaign did not reply to our request, it does seem that a recently recorded interview he did with the members of the Bee newspaper group’s editorial boards contains a kind of, sort of appropriate answer to our questions.

So here is that video:    

A pair of closing thoughts: first, if you try to play the “Damn!” drinking game you will end up in a coma or worse so please do not.

Second, while Twitter can often be a morass of irritation, occasionally a comment appears that is hilariously on-point.  So credit where credit is due, Pete Campbell @googlewell, for coming up with this gem after watching the video:

“Good thing California doesn’t have nuclear weapons.”

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3 thoughts on “What the Recall Candidates Are Saying About the California Dream

  1. Honestly Comrades no politician deserves consideration due to ineptness and corrupted genes…..
    Yeah ……first out of Kabul with a copter full of money……on to French Laundry for tizers…..

  2. If Newsom retains the office, WE WILL move out of state… that will be prima facie evidence of pervasive voter fraud and Dominionation of California politics…

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