Guide for the 2022 California governor’s race: Can anyone beat Gavin Newsom?

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference

Gov. Gavin Newsom at a February news conference.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Less than a year after surviving a recall election, California Gov. Gavin Newsom faces reelection.

He’s generally considered the front-runner without major Democratic opposition. But challengers have emerged. The top two vote-getters on Tuesday will advance to the general election in November.

California’s 2022 primary election is Tuesday. Here’s how to cast a ballot.

June 7, 2022

Here are the basics of the race:

Gavin Newsom

Newsom’s resounding victory in the recall election in 2022 against Larry Elder and others set the stage for what many observers see as an easy reelection. After Newsom beat back a recall, “the gubernatorial election seems like an afterthought,” said Republican political consultant Kevin Spillane. Still, a February poll found Newsom’s popularity took a hit. Concerns about rising crime and California’s seemingly intractable homelessness crisis emerged as the top political undercurrents driving voter dissatisfaction, with most of those surveyed giving Newsom poor marks for how he has handled those issues. Californians praised Newsom’s ability to guide the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, but two-thirds believe the crisis is subsiding, diluting its effect on his overall job approval ratings, the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found. Recently, Newsom, sitting on a $23-million campaign war chest, has been at the center of California’s response to the expected overturning of Roe vs. Wade.


Concerns about rising crime and the homelessness crisis emerged as the top issues driving voter dissatisfaction with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Feb. 15, 2022

Newsom is all but alone on the public stage with just six months to go before the June statewide primary, a testament to his defeat of the recall.

Dec. 13, 2021

The threat to Roe vs. Wade enables Gov. Gavin Newsom to pivot to a familiar campaign strategy: focusing on what’s perceived as a conservative threat.

May 5, 2022

A lack of marquee races could result in an election in which the voters who show up aren’t representative of California’s diverse population.

April 1, 2022

The ball’s teed up for the Republican Party to contest Gov. Gavin Newsom, columnist George Skelton writes, but it already swung weakly last year and shanked to the right.

Feb. 18, 2022

The challengers

Newsom is facing challengers mostly from the right but also from the left. The race did not attract many big names from the GOP, and those trying to oust the governor have not raised significant amounts of money. As The Times’ Phil Willon summed it up: “With no widely known, well-funded challenger to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s bid for reelection, a motley assortment of deep-thinkers, also-rans and fed-up political neophytes each holds a modicum of hope that, just maybe, they will shock California by winning enough votes in the June 7 primary to face off against the governor in the general election.” They have attacked Newsom over issues including crime and homelessness and are hoping to use the state of the economy — notably high inflation that has hurt President Biden — against Newsom. With the California Republican Party’s endorsement, state Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) is favored to finish in the top two in the June 7 primary.

The most active among the list of long-shot candidates to challenge Gov. Gavin Newsom have each raised six-figure sums for their campaigns.

May 31, 2022

Newsom is seemingly on a clear path to reelection this November, four years after he was elected by the largest margin of any California governor over the past half-century.

March 12, 2022

“This is a tough race,” Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle said about his decision to challenge Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

May 20, 2022

Some GOP delegates complained that establishment party leaders were trying to hand state Sen. Brian Dahle the win.

April 24, 2022


The main candidates for governor responded to detailed questionnaires prepared by the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Reading list from other publications

A guide to the governor’s race

Newsom insists he’s not interested in presidential run
(San Francisco Chronicle)

What could be next for Newsom?
(Washington Post)

Why Newsom’s chances looking good
(Sacramento Bee)