A little comedy, a lot of serious governance issues in the new recall-election guide just now hitting mailboxes


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Ballots for the state’s special recall election were scheduled to go out to all registered voters in California starting Monday. Another important piece of mail is also on the way to mailboxes across the state: It’s the Voter Information Guide and it’s got a couple of chuckles as well as helpful guidance.

The 32-page guide is designed to frame the two questions posed on this ballot: Should California voters remove Governor Gavin Newsom? And if they do, who should take his place?

Those might seem like pretty straightforward decisions, but with 46 candidates vying to be Newsom’s replacement, little is straightforward.

That’s why the Voter Information Guide, going out this month to all registered voters in the state from the California Secretary of State, deserves a look.

It tells voters their rights.

It tells voters how to find their polling station.

It explains how the recall works.

It lays out arguments for and against Newsom’s recall.

And then the fun part. It gives the replacement candidates a chance to lay out their cases.

Not all 46 though. Just 34 of them.

Why? First, because candidates must have accepted the state-established voluntary spending limit — about $9.7 million for this election. Those who don’t aren’t eligible to purchase space in the voters’ guide at $25 a word, which is why so many are brief, up to $6,000 and change for the maximum 250 words.

Most candidates did accept the spending limit but among those who didn’t are two who’ve polled well: John Cox, the former Republican candidate for governor, and Kevin Paffrath, a YouTube financial advice star who has the strongest support among the handful of Democrats on the Sept. 14 ballot.

But most of the others are in the voters’ guide: Larry Elder, Kevin Faulconer, Doug Ose, Kevin Kiley, Caitlynn Jenner. So are many of the, uh, lesser known candidates.

There’s Angelyne the Billboard Queen, a self-described icon and experienced politician.

There’s Dan Kapelovitz, whose message to voters is succinct: Can you dig it? Not sure what we’re supposed to be digging. Maybe it’s the odd-looking glasses in his photo.

There’s Chauncey “Slim” Killens and Adam Pagagan, whose platform is a simple, two-word message: “Love U.” That’s u, with just the letter u.

Yes, the Voters Information Guide has some laughs all right.

Nobody’s laughing at this part, though.  Less than a year before Newsom is scheduled to stand for re-election anyway, taxpayers are shelling out $276 million for this special election. That’s more than a quarter of a billion dollars, a chunk of which is paying for the Voter Information Guide, most likely showing up in your mailbox this week.

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