A GOP governor would radically upend California. Here are 12 key issues at stake

Pictures of six candidates running against Gavin Newsom in the recall election
Candidates running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election include, clockwise from top left: businessman John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Caitlyn Jenner, conservative radio host Larry Elder, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Democrat Kevin Paffrath.

California has long seen itself as a progressive leader on government policy — from the environment and immigration to criminal justice reform, workplace protections and regulation.

Not all of California’s innovations have worked. But many have become a model for the nation and sparked partisan battles. California became the center of the resistance to President Trump’s policies, filing scores of lawsuits to block his efforts at deregulation and other matters.

With his governorship beset by wildfires, homelessness and virus transmission, Newsom seeks to reframe the election as a vote on Republicans.


California’s approach goes back decades.

But if voters recall Gov. Gavin Newsom and replace him with a conservative Republican, so much could be upended. From taxation and environmental regulations to strict COVID-19 protocols, the GOP candidates vow major changes.

Such a shift would come at a pivotal moment for the state, as it tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic while struggling with rising crime and the devastating effects of climate change: fires, rising sea levels and drought.

Here is a rundown of what the GOP field says about the big issues facing California as well as some analysis of what their positions would mean to California.

The issues

Law enforcement and policing

Criminal justice reform and crime victims

Coronavirus regulations and protections

Vaccine mandates




Unemployment system

Education, schools and COVID-19

Eviction protections


Energy policy

This is what voters need to know about the Sept. 14 recall election.

The big picture

GOP candidates for governor would take California is a radical new direction

How California became a model for the Biden Administration

Meet all 46 candidates for governor and what they stand for

California strongly opposed Trump. But the GOP field loves him and his policies