Former Rep. Doug Ose drops out of California governor recall race after heart attack

Doug Ose
Doug Ose speaks during a gubernatorial candidates debate on Aug. 4 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. Ose dropped out of the recall race Tuesday after suffering a heart attack over the weekend.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose said Tuesday he was dropping out of the gubernatorial recall race after suffering a heart attack.

“Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do. It is what [it] is: my campaign for governor is over,” Ose said in a statement sent from his campaign.

Ose said that while he was expected to make a full recovery, additional procedures and potential surgery were required and he had to devote his attention to rehabilitation and healing.

The 66-year-old Republican said he suffered the heart attack on Sunday and was treated at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento.


Well wishes for Ose from across the political spectrum were quickly posted on social media after the news broke. Fellow recall candidate Assemblymember Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) tweeted prayers for a swift and smooth recovery, writing that Ose “has served with integrity and distinction and his candidacy did a great deal to advance the Recall movement.”

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) tweeted: “My heart-filled prayers for @DougOse and his entire family for a full and speedy recovery.”

Ose served in Congress from 1999 to 2005. While in Washington, the Sacramento-area real estate developer and rancher was seen as a moderate Republican representing a suburban swing district with a blended electorate.

He ran unsuccessfully for the House again in 2008 and 2014. Ose embraced Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy in early 2016 and served as a state chair for him later that year. He ran briefly for governor in 2018 but dropped out early in the race.

Ose entered the 2021 gubernatorial recall race in mid-March, before the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom officially qualified for the ballot. He donated $100,000 of his own money to his campaign last week, following a $32,400 contribution in April.

His quips occasionally garnered attention, particularly his pronouncement during a candidates debate earlier this month that staff at the state’s embattled unemployment insurance program should “just answer the damn phone.”


In his statement Tuesday, Ose urged voters to vote yes on the recall’s first question of whether Newsom should be recalled, and “put an end to the current reign of corruption and hypocrisy.” He has not yet endorsed another candidate.

Ose’s name will remain on ballots, which have already been printed and mailed to voters across the state. His departure is not expected to notably alter the race.

Ose, who is well respected in conservative politics, was seen as a serious candidate, albeit one who had yet to garner a significant share of support.

He participated in the candidates debate Aug. 4 and had been slated to participate in a debate hosted by the Sacramento Press Club on Tuesday night, though recent Berkeley IGS and CBS polls placed his support at or below 2%.

“I think this is kind of like the tortoise and the hare,” he said of the race in mid-June. “I don’t have a bear, I don’t have the glitz and the glamour of [Caitlyn] Jenner and I’ve been out of office 15 years. But I just go talk to people about stuff that’s affecting their everyday life and I’m connecting.”