Recall stock watch


RECALL STOCK WATCH: The dust is settling, so it’s time to assess how everyone fared in this whole endeavor. We know initial impressions may not last, but here’s our view of things a couple days removed from Election Day.

WINNERS: Gov. Gavin Newsom. Obviously.

Larry Elder: OK, so he didn’t become governor. But in mere weeks, the longtime talk-show host emerged from right-wing airwaves to win nearly half of the recall replacement vote. Whatever happens from here, Elder boosted his profile immensely in California and nationally. He’s the California GOP figurehead now — whether the party leadership likes it or not.

California TV stations: Television ad bookers had to be sweating things in 2020 during the pandemic. Then came a massive special election in 2021 out of nowhere. According to our friends at ad-tracking service Ad Impact, leading candidates drove somewhere in the range of $50 million in television ad buys. The bulk of that came from Newsom’s “Stop the Republican Recall” campaign, which dropped $33.5 million, according to the last update on Monday.

Consultants: Hiring Fred Davis to come up with a campaign strategy around a live bear and big ball of trash isn’t cheap. Nor are the many other consultants, from Brad Parscale to Ace Smith.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley: Yes, he only got 3 percent of the replacement vote. And his current statewide vote total of 162,113 is less than he received when he was re-elected last year in Assembly District 6. But he boosted his name identification among Republicans and conservatives, appearing in several debates after getting coverage earlier this year for suing Newsom. If you see his end game as, say, winning a foothills congressional seat and not becoming governor, we’ll count this as a W.

Big business: The California Chamber of Commerce sat this one out, as did many other business interests. They avoided upsetting Newsom — who could now run the state for 5 more years — while conserving their cash for next year’s legislative primaries. And they benefited from the recall without being involved because the election forced Newsom to consider their reopening concerns more seriously.

Kevin Paffrath: Let’s be honest. Were you really inclined to “Meet Kevin” before the election? Give him credit for building his profile — even if it took being an annoying hanger-on at Newsom events. He’s currently in second place on the now-moot replacement ballot with nearly 10 percent. How many other Kevins can say that?

California Democrats: If you thought this was going to be the comeuppance for one-party rule in California, think again. If anything, it showed how the state has no serious countervailing force for the foreseeable future. And Democrats were able to lay the groundwork for extensive mobilization efforts in 2022.

The French Laundry: Any publicity is good publicity, right?

LOSERS: The recall — and possibly California gubernatorial recalls for years to come. The $276 million price tag, along with the prospect of allowing a plurality to elect a governor with millions fewer votes than Newsom received, is already pushing Democrats to seek a constitutional amendment to change the recall process as soon as next year.

John Cox’s heirs: Every time they saw that godforsaken bear on TV, they had to be thinking, “There goes another European vacation.” We don’t know how rich Cox is, but AdImpact says he dropped $7 million on ads, while he spent nearly $10 million in all. All to get 4 percent of the vote on a ballot question rendered moot.

Kevin Faulconer: On paper, Faulconer had a chance to do something here. Maybe not win, but at least look like a viable 2022 option who could challenge Newsom with support from Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats. Expectations were higher for him than someone rolling around the state with a ball of trash, but that also means his lowly 8.6 percent looks that much worse. Especially when you consider a decent chunk of those votes likely came from nose-plugging Democrats who will vote for Newsom next year.

Caitlyn Jenner: “I guarantee you that I am in the lead,” Jenner insisted to a roomful of political reporters in her first Sacramento press conference on July 9. Weeks later, she was in Australia taping “Celebrity Big Brother.” She’s now in 13th place with 1.1 percent, trailing a bunch of people who never had a reality TV show or an Olympic gold medal.

Special interest war chests: Labor dropped several million dollars defending Newsom. While unions collect a lot of money, we’re guessing that fundage could have proved helpful in a few legislative primary battles next year.

People named Kevin: We got overexposed, especially that time three Kevins shared the same debate stage. There was even a San Francisco Chronicle column calling us “the new Karen.” Thanks a lot, guys.

HAPPY THURSDAY! Welcome to California PM Playbook, a new POLITICO newsletter that serves as an afternoon temperature check of California politics. This is the penultimate day for this installment. Got tips or suggestions? Shoot an email to [email protected] and [email protected]. We’re also on Twitter: @kyamamura or @katymurphy.

Newsom tweeted Thursday, “Turns out — vaccines WORK. Over 82% of eligible Californians have at least one dose. Now, we have the lowest case rate in the nation.” He also highlighted his Wednesday remarks about beating the recall: “It sharpens your focus about time.”

Elder said Thursday that he had “No regrets!” about his recall campaign, adding: “Bloodied, but unbowed. Stay tuned…” Elder also continued to highlight his rise in the polls on the second question, along with discussing Norm Macdonald and which current and former presidents (and O.J. Simpson) are allowed to have a Twitter account.

Kiley criticized what he said was Newsom spending “record sums to broadcast fearmongering lies about the vaccine (per the AP),” adding that several Democratic groups each donated millions and that next year, they’ll be limited to just $32,400. Kiley added: “The Recall brought countless Californians into state politics for the first time. That is vastly more important than the immediate outcome.”

VHS OR BETA: Hard to say where California Republicans go from here, but the most damning indictment comes from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took office in the state’s 2003 recall.

The Los Angeles Times’ Melanie Mason and Seema Mehta caught up with Schwarzenegger on Wednesday.

“In 2007, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously warned his party that ‘in movie terms, we are dying at the box office,'” they wrote. “On Wednesday, his assessment was even worse: ‘It’s now direct-to-video.'”

PRESIDENTIAL PAUSE: Newsom finds himself in the national spotlight since Tuesday’s landslide victory, and the question of his presidential aspirations has returned. But the governor told CBS News today that’s a “never.”

Despite years of speculation since his time as San Francisco mayor, Newsom said a presidential run has “literally, 100 percent never been on my radar” and was “never a childhood dream.”

The governor may have been deterred by the election of Kamala Harris as vice president. Newsom and Harris go way back, climbing the political ranks and starting off in the same circles in San Francisco. That complicates things, since Harris — who just stumped for Newsom in San Leandro last week — is likely to run whenever the next opportunity arises.

Newsom also told CBS News this morning that national Democrats need to follow in his footsteps when it comes to the pandemic, saying that his recall signifies that “we need to stiffen our spines and lean in to keeping people safe and healthy. That we shouldn’t be timid in trying to protect people’s lives and mitigate the spread and transmission of this disease.” — Mackenzie Mays

DUPLEXES INCOMING: Newsom signed two major housing bills today that could boost the state’s housing supply by adding density…


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