LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California lawmaker on Tuesday joined the growing list of Republican candidates hoping to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a September recall election.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley — one of Newsom’s most vocal critics at the Statehouse, and a rising personality in the California GOP — announced on Twitter that he would enter the race.
In a statement, he faulted the first-term governor for “special interest corruption” and promised to be an antidote to the governor’s “lawless mode of governance.”
“I’ve said I’m ready to play whatever role will do the most to get our movement across the finish line,” Kiley said, referring to the recall election. “After hearing from tens of thousands of Californians, I’m convinced that role is to replace Gavin Newsom as governor.”
Kiley joins a large GOP field that includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; businessman John Cox, who was defeated by Newsom in 2018; reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner; and former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose. Conservative talk show host Larry Elder has said he’s considering joining the race.
Kiley, a 36-year-old lawyer and former prosecutor from the Sacramento suburb of Rocklin, is known in the Legislature for fighting for access to charter schools and was one of the Republican lawmakers who filed a court challenge to Newsom’s far-reaching policies during the coronavirus pandemic.
Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, was elected governor in a 2018 landslide in the heavily Democratic state. The recall drive gained momentum following school and business closures during the depths of the pandemic that unsettled life for millions of Californians. The election is set for Sept. 14.
In a statement earlier this month referenced by Kiley, recall organizer Orrin Heatlie said volunteers behind the effort where disappointed with the field of potential replacement candidates and predicted Kiley, should he enter the race, would unite those backing the drive to remove Newsom.
However, Kiley is little known statewide outside of GOP circles, and he enters a race in which some of the leading candidates have been campaigning for months.
Newsom’s campaign issued a statement calling Kiley “another Trump sycophant.”
A Kiley spokesman did not immediately respond to a question about whether the assemblyman voted for former President Donald Trump in 2016 or 2020. Kiley told The Sacramento Bee in May 2016 he was supporting then-Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich in the presidential race.