The Recall

Here are the replacement candidates’ views on climate.

With the California recall election coming up a month from now, it’s time to take a look at the candidates. The environment hasn’t been a signature issue for incumbent, Gavin Newsom, but he has strongly supported climate action.  Now let’s take a look at who might replace him.

It’s hard to know who, out of the scores of candidates, might ultimately emerge from the pack of challengers. Here are the candidates who currently seem to have the greatest chances and their views on environmental issues:

  • John Cox. Cox, a businessman, ran against Newsom in 2018. Cox has said of climate change: “I don’t know how much of it is caused by humans. I don’t even know how much of it is negative. I think there are some benefits to it.”
  • Larry Elder. Elder, a conservative talk radio host, is probably the leading Republican candidate at this point. He isn’t an outright climate skeptic, though he is unconvinced that climate change has anything to do with California’s current wildfires.  He wrote an enthusiastic review of Bjorn Lomborg’s book.  Elder described the book as arguing that “many of the elaborate and expensive actions now being considered to stop global warming will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, are often based on emotional rather than strictly scientific assumptions, and may very well have little impact on the world’s temperature for hundreds of years.” Not good news for California’s climate programs.
  • Kevin Faulconer. Unusually for a Republican, the former San Diego mayor endorses significant climate action. Faulconer has taken credit for the passage of the city’s 2015 Climate Action Plan, which requires the city to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035.
  • Sam Gallucci. Republican and tech businessman Sam Galluci served as executive vice president and general manager of PeopleSoft.  He seems to favor renewable energy. His website spotlights energy shortages and says: “We will solve this problem for all Californians. This will include holding power companies accountable and finding creative and innovative solutions along with increased incentives for renewables. The sunshine state only receives 19% of its power from solar, and much of it doesn’t even use the latest technology.” You may be confused, given that Florida is the “Sunshine State” but I guess he meant California, the “Golden State.”
  • Jeff Hewitt. Hewitt is a Libertarian businessman and Riverside County Supervisor. He sponsored a resolution calling for more local control of the energy mix. It did not oppose the goal of cutting emissions, however. It provided: “The county understands the need to mitigate the impacts of climate change and is committed to doing its part to help (the state) achieve its goals, but requires the flexibility to do so in a manner that best serves the needs of residents and businesses.”
  • Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner is a former Olympics star turned reality TV star. Jenner’s views on environmental issues are hazy, but she does say that California “needs less regulation” and has to compete with Texas. She also favors defunding high speed rail and using the money for border security instead.
  • Doug Ose. Ose formerly represented a suburban Sacramento district in Congress. Ose’s lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters was 12%. In 2014, he said he was skeptical of climate science.

Of the challengers, Cox and Ose have views that best represent the GOP base on the climate issue. Some of the others would have less radical impacts on California policy. A  successful recall would at the very least mean that California will no longer be in the forefront on climate policy.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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