‘That first question’: Kevin Kiley, former candidate for the state Senate seat held by Brian Dahle, runs for governor

State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley has announced he is running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election set to be held Sept. 14.
Submitted to The Union

State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, whose district includes parts of El Dorado, Placer, and Sacramento counties, said he views himself and the other candidates running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom as working on the same team.

A special election to determine whether Newsom will be recalled, and if so, who will take his place as California’s governor, is set to be held Sept. 14, according to an announcement made by the state’s lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis.

In 2019, Kiley ran and lost against fellow Republican Brian Dahle in the race to represent District 1 — which includes Nevada County — in the state Senate.

Following a longtime involvement in the push to recall Newsom, Kiley announced last Tuesday that he will be running to replace him. He held a launch event for his campaign at the state Capitol Saturday.

In joining the special election for governor, he has become part of a list which, as of Monday, included 70 people, according to the record of Statements of Intention filed with the California Secretary of State.

Of these, 30 are listed with Republican as their party, 18 with no party preference, 16 with Democratic, four with the Green Party, one Libertarian, and one with the American Independent Party.

In the September election, according to the state’s Secretary of State Office, voters will first choose “yes” or “no” in response to whether Newsom should be recalled.

If the majority vote “yes,” then the voters’ response to the second question will decide who will take office for the rest of the gubernatorial term. If the majority vote “no,” Newsom will remain in office.

“I would say, when it comes to the way a recall works, for other folks who are running, we’re not opponents,” said Kiley on the other candidates. “We’re actually teammates, because we share the goal of the recall being successful. We share the goal of getting over 50% on that first question, removing Newsom from office and changing California.”

This format will have an effect on the public messaging aspect of running his campaign, according to Kiley. He explained that he will continue to make a case against Newsom, drawing a contrast from him, and that to some extent, the others in this race are doing the same.

Kiley expressed a general opposition to Newsom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, describing him as having “used the emergency for blatantly political purposes.”

Regarding the extent to which his current district’s priorities have shaped his plans, Kiley said he believes his area has been negatively affected by Newsom, including by his response to the pandemic but also extending for years beforehand, during which he said policies and mandates coming from the Governor’s Office have been “unhelpful.”

“I think that very much the frustration among the people in my district is representative of the broader frustration that’s fueling this movement,” he said.

Asked if the Nevada County Republican Party will be endorsing Kiley or any other candidate this election, chairman Bob Hren said in an email Friday, “The election cycle is very short and any endorsements have not yet been decided.”

He added that he may have “a more definitive response” late this week.

According to an advertisement on the Nevada County Republican Party’s website, Kiley will make an appearance as keynote speaker at an upcoming fundraising event for the organization, titled the “Lincoln-Reagan-Trump Dinner 2021,” set to be held July 24.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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