- Ability to cajole, flatter, and goad 120 stubborn assembly members and senators into advancing a policy agenda.
- Familiarity with the following issues: how to prepare for the next recession, how to manage the state’s burgeoning pension liabilities, whether to support bail reform, whether to support a state-run, single-payer health insurance program, how to respond to possible cuts in federal Medicaid spending, how to increase transparency and close achievement gaps in public education, how to encourage more housing development, whether to stick with the current governor’s climate change policies, and how to prepare for next year’s fire season. Among other things.
- Oratory skills sufficient to give an annual “State of the State” speech
- Required: Know enough qualified people to fill positions at 457 offices, boards, and agencies. These include the Department of Finance (which helps write the budget and provides fiscal advice), the Environmental Protection Agency (which regulates water use, toxic substances, and runs the state cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases), the Health and Human Services Agency (which runs Medi-Cal and the state’s welfare programs), and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
- Preferred: Understand what those offices, boards, and agencies actually do
- Willingness to accept credit for state policy successes—deserved or not
- Willingness to accept blame for state policy failures—deserved or not
A flexible schedule: The governor will have the option to call special sessions of the Legislature to take up the special causes.
A blue pencil with which to cross out particular expenses the Legislature thinks the state should pay for, but the governor doesn’t.
While the previous 38 holders of this office have been men (37 of them white, except for roughly 10 months in 1875), technically, we are an equal opportunity employer.
Nearly 30 applications are under consideration, but surveys of the hiring board (public opinion polls) show only six candidates enjoy more than 5 percent support.
Among these front-runners, Gavin Newsom, the current lieutenant governor, remains the strongest applicant by virtue of the fact that he consistently comes first in the polls, has raised the most money, and most Californians actually know who he is. Vying for second place—and the last remaining spot on the November general election ballot—are John Cox, a conservative Republican who has never held office, and Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles. The remaining candidates—John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, and Travis Allen—have not made much headway in either support or financing since the beginning of the year, but a significant fraction of the hiring board remains undecided about whom to support on June 5.
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Click or tap the dropdown to choose the issue you want to see the candidate's stances on.
- California Dream
- Taxes & Budget
What happened to the California Dream? How did we get here?
"Well, if I look at what's happened to California over the last 30 years—and I witnessed it back in Illinois as well—it's the growth of the power of special interest, of people that have an agenda and are able to get it enacted in the state legislature and with the governors."
"When you have eight million people—roughly, plus or minus—living below the poverty line, and 46% of our children at or near the poverty line, based on supplemental poverty analysis, clearly we have failed. And this has been a trendline throughout most of my life. And increasingly it's becoming a headline...I am concerned that we ain’t seen nothing yet. The next iteration of technology, what's happening with IT and globalization detonating at the same time, is going to make this perhaps the most vexing issue facing the next governor, and governors all across this country, for that matter, leaders all around the rest of the world. So this is the issue. Outside the existential issues around energy and climate change, the issue of income and wealth disparity is the issue."
What would you do as governor to address the problem?
"There's a lot of mismanagement and a lot of improvements I can make. I'm gonna have fun turning around this state because we call it low hanging fruit in the business world. There's a lot of low hanging fruit in this state to improve, and I'm looking forward to building a team of business people like myself that will come in the government and re-engineer it and reinvent it. I'm here to tell you, Gavin Newsom isn't gonna do that. Villaraigosa isn't gonna do that, and why? Because the people funding their campaigns don't want that."
"For me, I'm a Democrat that doesn't begrudge other people's success. I don't come at it from the lens of a redistribution perspective. I come at it from a pre-distribution perspective. What do I mean by that? I would argue the reason it's happened is that our interventions have come too late...The number one predictor of whether or not you're going to end up in the criminal justice system is the number of words you speak in kindergarten...Prenatal care. Half the births in California plus are Medi-Cal births. Zero to Three. Nurse home visits...the imperative of talking to your kids, reading to your kids and having an engagement that is systemic, that is organized, and deliberative, and resourced, I think is the most profound thing we can do to change the trajectory."
Do you think the way California channels more money to schools with needier students (the Local Control Funding Formula) has been a success?
No. He says the best way to improve schools would be to introduce more competition by establishing more charter schools and providing vouchers for families to spend on private education. “Throwing more money or re-allocating money is okay but it's not gonna get to the fundamental issue.”
Yes. He says he supports the program, but that he would also push for more scrutiny, to “make sure those dollars are being accountable and used as they were intended.”
Should charter schools play a larger role in California education?
Yes. He says the “ultimate goal” of his education policy would be to increase the number of charters in the state.
Sort of. He says he is not “ideologically opposed” to charters, but also says more should be done to improve accountability and transparency.
How would you make a college education—and the experience of going to college—more affordable in California?
As governor, he says that he will study the issue, but blames high tuition costs on “easy financing.”
Proposes the state launch college savings accounts for every California kindergartener and supports two tuition-free years of community college. He also supports increasing state funding for living expense grants through the Cal Grant B program.
How would you close the persistent achievement gap?
He says the state should allow more charter schools to open, provide vouchers to families that want to send their kids to private schools, and facilitate more homeschooling if necessary. “Competition is why I get up every single day wanting to be better than the next guy, and that competition is not available in our education system.”
He says more social services and a broader array of educational options should be provided at schools directly . He also says more should be done to recruit a more diverse teaching workforce to promote “cultural competency” in the classroom.
What should the state be doing differently to manage the threat of wildfire?
He says the state should allow for more logging to reduce overly dense forest growth, build more roads on forest land to create firebreaks, and allow private companies to explore other uses of dead trees.
He says he supports carrying on the work of Gov. Brown’s Tree Mortality Taskforce and getting “much more aggressive” on dead tree and brush removal.
Do you support the Delta water tunnels project?
No. As with the high-speed rail project, he has referred to the tunnel project as a “boondoggle.”
Yes. He says he is more likely to support a single tunnel, rather than two. “One thing we can't do is walk away from this and that means it has to be addressed immediately.”
Do you support the state’s cap-and-trade program?
No. “The cap-and-trade tax is raising the price of gasoline and the gasoline cost is already so high for the working people in the state. It's regressive. It is counterproductive and I would almost certainly roll that back.
Yes. He calls the program “vital to our climate leadership.”
With sea levels predicted to rise as a result of climate change, should the state start building levees or prevent new development along the coast?
Unclear. He says the question of how climate change will affect California is “above my pay grade. I'm not a climatologist.”
Yes. He says he supports current initiatives to address beach erosion and flooding. A lot of that work needs to be amplified by the next governor. Those best practices need to be shared up and down the coast
Do you want to create a single-payer healthcare system to cover all Californians—managed and funded by the state? If so, how would that work?
No. “Why stop at healthcare? Why not have single payer food?”
Yes. He supports establishing a state-run insurance program. He has suggested that the program could be funded with a payroll tax, but has not offered specifics.”I don't know how to do it, because it's never been done. But I believe it can be done.”
Undocumented immigrants can't receive subsidized health coverage through the state’s private health insurance exchange. Should the state do anything to help this population get covered and, if so, what?
No. “I don't believe in giving benefits to people who have broken the law to come to the country.”
Yes. He says “we’re going to have to insure the undocumented,” but does not yet offer specific details on how this would be done.
Should the state make it easier to compel mentally ill people to receive psychiatric treatment against their will?
Yes. He says he will consult with experts on how to ensure that those suffering from mental illness receive the treatment they need while respecting civil liberties. He also said that the local officials should more strictly enforce vagrancy laws.
Sort of. He says he is “open to argument” and leans “in the direction” of more coerced treatment, but says his priority for mental health policy is early detection and intervention.
Should the state allow cities to enact new rent controls?
No. “Price controls never, ever work.”
Sort of. He says that an “outright repeal” of Costa-Hawkins could have a “chilling effect on housing production in the state,” but that he might support a compromise that would allow more units to be rent controlled and make evictions more difficult.
What should the state be doing to help reduce homelessness?
He says that the state should engage in public-private partnerships with charities and nonprofits to provide assistance to homeless Californians. He also blames the state’s homeless problem on the high cost of prison operations: “We can’t afford to keep people in jail, so we’re releasing them to the streets.”
He says the state should provide more funding for supportive housing (affordable housing with in-house social services) and use Medi-Cal (Medicaid) funding to provide physical and mental health treatment for homeless individuals. He also says he will appoint a “Secretary of Homelessness” in his cabinet.
Should the state ever force cities to allow more development to ease the statewide housing shortage?
No. He says that some urban areas will have to accomodate more allow for more, denser development, but he does not think the state should be imposing those requirements. He opposes SB 827, which he calls a “top-down, one-size-fits-all state edict.”
Sort of. He says he supports the idea of encouraging more dense development around public transit corridors, of making transit funding conditional on whether a city meets its state housing goals and of creating a “Regional Housing Appeal Board” to provide developers with “recourse against localities” who refuse to allow new construction. He says that he supports the “intent” of SB 827, but says he will not weigh in until it is further along in the legislative process.
What else should the state do to spur more housing development?
He calls for the “the repeal and replacement of CEQA” and opposes subsidizing housing construction.
Newsom says he supports the $4 billion affordable housing bond, wants to put an additional $500 million into the state’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, and wants to encourage the use of enhanced infrastructure financing districts (a more limited version of redevelopment agencies). He also wants to expand to the list of “socially desirable” projects that receive exemptions from environmental review.
As governor, would you carry out scheduled executions?
Yes. Though he personally opposes the death penalty, he says he wouldn’t put his own “person predilections” above the law.
Unclear. “We're going to have to deal with it when we have to deal with it. My opposition to the death penalty is well known.”
Should the state step in to investigate when local police kill someone?
No. He said that there should be independent investigations of police shootings that do not involve the local police department or police officers’ unions. But the state should not serve that role. “I believe the local community is more attuned to what's going on and will understand things a lot more.”
Yes. “I support independent investigations into use-of-force cases.” He says he would support such a program if it were run out of the state Attorney General's office.
Should state and local law enforcement officers assist federal authorities in immigration enforcement?
Yes. “I want to make sure we end the sanctuary state movement.”
No. He supports the sanctuary state bill saying that all residents should “feel confident to come forward and engage with law enforcement.”
Should the state end cash bail?
No. “Bail has a purpose: making sure that people show up.”
Yes. “Let’s slam the doors on cash bail.”
Do you want to ban the common practice of resolving sexual harassment suits with secrecy agreements?
Sort of. He supports a ban for public sector employees only. “I don't think government should restrict contracts in the private sector.”
Sort of. He said supports the idea, but would have to learn more about the details of the specific proposal. “I'm inclined to be supportive.”
How would you change the tax code so that state tax revenues aren’t so volatile?
He says he would support lowering, or even eliminating, the state income tax and “reducing taxes at all levels.” He argues that the state could make up the difference by running the government in a more efficient manner.
He warns that when the economy catches a cold, “our budget is going to catch the flu.” He has suggested a sales tax on services, reforming Prop 13, an oil severance tax, and adjusting income tax rates as part of a possible solution.
Should the state change the way that commercial property is taxed under Prop. 13?
No. He supports allowing homeowners to take their Prop 13 savings with them when they move.
Sort of. He says he supports reforming Prop 13, ensuring that commercial property is reassessed if at least half of its ownership has exchanged hands. He also says Prop 13 reform should be considered as part of a “broader conversation on tax reform in the state.”
What should the state do, if anything, to ensure that state and local governments can pay for the future pension and healthcare benefits owed to retired public employees?
He suggests that the state might increase the retirement age and limit the ability of public employees to collect multiple government jobs.
He says pension obligations, where they are fiscally unsustainable, should be renegotiated through the collective bargaining process, rather than “by fiat or ballot.”
The California Supreme Court may soon decide if the state should be allowed to renegotiate the future retirement benefits of current workers, or if those promises are unbreachable contracts. What do you think?
He says state and local governments should be allowed to modify the contracted future benefits of current employees. “In the private sector, that's not even an issue. If I have a business that's not working very well and I have benefits that aren't affordable and the business isn't working, I'm gonna have to tell people we can't keep accruing these future benefits.”
Unclear. “That fight is underway, and there's not much that the next governor can do...even with the California rule, we have the tools through collective bargaining to negotiate reforms and commensurate offsets.”
What other major fiscal changes would be required to pay for your policy vision?
He says the state can pay for across-the-board tax cuts by cutting public school administrative spending, making the California Transportation Agency operate more efficiently, and tackling other areas of mismanagement, which he calls “low hanging fruit.”
He says the state can pay for a significant increase in public health spending by introducing a new payroll tax. He says the state could find additional savings by driving down the cost of technology services and products that the state procures.
Should the state repeal the recent increase in the gas tax? If so, how should we pay for the transportation improvements it would have funded?
Yes. He calls it “a regressive, horrible tax” and has financially supported a potential ballot proposal to repeal it. He says the difference in funding can be made up by cutting road building costs.
No. He says that Democrats voting to increase the gas tax to fund transportation infrastructure demonstrated a “profile in courage.”
Do you support the high speed rail project—and if so, how should it be funded?
No. He calls it “a monument to corruption and mismanagement” and promises to defund it.
Yes. “I want to keep this thing going”—though he has acknowledged in the past that the project as originally envisioned may need to be scaled down.
Renteria was late to apply for the job of governor, announcing her intention for the position just a month before the filing deadline. By the historic standards of this job hiring process, this is an unconventionally short period of time in which to review an application. She lists among her interests: campaign finance reform, expanding funding for affordable housing, and pushing for single-payer health insurance. She’s also called on fellow Democratic applicant Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to resign, citing his 2007 sexual relationship with a workplace subordinate.
Relevant work experience includes:
- Chief of Operations, California Department of Justice, 2017-2018
- National political director, Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2016
- Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, (unsuccessful) California 21st District, 2014
- Chief of staff for Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), 2008-2013
Former aide to Hillary Clinton keeps a low profile as she begins campaign for California governor
A #MeToo Fight Has Erupted Between Two Democrats
This is not your typical environmentalist. As the founder of two Bay Area environmental think tanks, Shellenberger has made a career of climate change policy advocacy—sometimes at the expense of mainstream environmentalism’s most sacred cows. He’s zealously pro-nuclear, a skeptic of rooftop solar energy, and a sharp critic of the current governor, Jerry Brown. He also wants to to break up the California Public Utilities Commission in response to its closure of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Among his interests: building more infrastructure for self-driving cars, raising the minimum wage, and encouraging housing development in both dense urban areas and on farm and ranch land.
Relevant work experience:
- Founder, Environmental Progress
- Co-founder, The Breakthrough Institute
Pro-nuke activist from Berkeley to run for California governor
Still More Applicants
A mathematician and repeat applicant for governor and senator, policy priorities include cutting corporate taxes and deregulating healthcare. His campaign literature describes him as a “super genius.”
Trained as a cardiovascular perfusionist and now retired, Bribiesca advocates both cutting taxes and wasteful spending, and improving services.
Thomas Jefferson Cares
Blockchain Startup CEO—a cryptocurrency and Burning Man enthusiast interested California independence.
Robert Davidson Griffis
Identifies himself as an entrepreneur and father. Promises to: declare bankruptcy and restructure the state’s debt, create a fund that would pay citizens to vote, and veto all legislation.
Albert Caesar Mezzetti
A 92-year-old former educator and Manteca city councilmember, Mezzetti’s top three policy priorities are protecting the 2nd Amendment, safeguarding women’s rights, and keeping marijuana away from children. If unsuccessful, says he may run for superintendent of Stockton Unified School District.
At 28, educator and artist Klement Tinaj claims to be the youngest candidate running. Supports single-payer healthcare, free community college for all, raising salaries for teachers, and balancing the state budget. Had a bit role in the seventh Fast and Furious movie.
Having previously applied for Congress and to be lieutenant governor, she’s a judicial assistant who supports cutting taxes and regulations, and providing meals to all public school students.
Peter Y Liu
Describing himself as the “World’s Smartest Leader,” previously ran for mayor of Oakland. Promotes universal concealed weapons permits, “mandatory surveillance” in high crime areas, and building affordable housing out of adobe.
Robert C. Newman II
Originally a research clinical psychologist and now a hog farmer, this will be the Newman’s fifth time applying for governor. He opposes abortion, proposes across-the-board state spending cuts, and touts his plan to “restore the moral health of California.”
Christopher N. Carlson
This puppeteer and musician’s application takes the form of a conceptual musical called “Güber: The 2018 Musical Green Party Campaign.” He opposes fracking and the Delta tunnel project—sometimes in song.
An author and organizer for both Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein during the 2016 presidential campaign, he supports single-payer healthcare, a universal basic income program, tuition-free college, more support for public transit and direct state funding of affordable housing in city centers.
A self-described entrepreneur and transhumanist lecturer, he bid follows a previous bid to be president of the United States. His primary goal: to harness science and technology to overcome human mortality and other social ills.
A political activist and rapper (stage name Qball), Wildstar supports cutting taxes, balancing the state budget and decriminalizing drugs.
Gloria Estela La Riva
Having applied multiple times to be governor, U.S. president and SF mayor, this graphic artist supports expropriating the property of banks and large corporations and providing free healthcare, education, and childcare to all Californians.
A recent college graduate and now a virtual reality manager is testing his theory that you need not be “rich, good looking, charismatic, upper class, corrupt, a D-list celebrity or politically well-connected” to be governor. Advocates cutting taxes, allowing students to elect UC Regents, and banning social media use for children.
Hakan "Hawk" Mikado
An online marketing entrepreneur, Hawk supports cutting taxes and creating incentives for businesses to hire American. He refers to his campaign as “The True American Movement.”
A software engineer affiliated with the American Solidarity Party, he opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, but supports progressive taxation, strong environmental protections, and state-subsidized preschool.
Jeffrey Edward Taylor
A Salinas farmer and evangelical Christian—also an unsuccessful repeat applicant for Congress and the U.S. presidency. Wants to engage Christians more in politics and end California’s sanctuary policy.
His official candidate statement and campaign slogan: “Why Not!”