SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California voters for the second time in a year, will decide whether to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office.
Newsom is running for a second term leading the state, carrying the momentum of soundly defeating a recall attempt and another massive budget surplus.
Newsom faces a fresh crop of more than two dozen challengers on the primary ballot.
Among them, Republican state senator Brian Dahle who’s raised the most money of the challengers and earned the endorsement of the California Republican Party.
"Doesn’t matter if you’re an independent, republican or democrat, your life is a mess right now in California," said Dahle. "People are leaving our state, that’s because of one party control."
Also, drawing some attention in the pack, author, environmentalist and Bay Area native Michael Shellenberger, who’s running as an independent.
"We draw equal support from Democrats, Independents and Republicans and that’s because it’s a common sense view," he said.
Challengers will try to finish second to Newsom in the June 7 primary, so they can face off with him in the November general election.
"I’ve been in the Capitol," said Dahle. "I work across the aisle, and the minority floor. I know how to work and get things done. I think my party saw that also."
The farmer from Lassen county has served in local and state government for more than 20 years. Chief among his priorities: combating crime and homelessness and rolling back regulations like on oil drilling to lower costs.
"Cost of living: if you’re on a fixed income, or you’re hourly wage earner, you’re getting destroyed by Gavin Newsom’s policies," said Dahle.
In a recent campaign ad, Newsom targeted Dahle on abortion rights.
The ad saying, "Dahle wants to roll back abortion rights punishing women and doctors."
Dahle said he opposes abortion, but said California’s laws around legal abortion won’t change.
"Nothing the federal government does is going to change the law in California," said Dahle. "The law in California will allow women to have an abortion."
As the state enters a new phase of the pandemic, Dahle opposes vaccine mandates, and chose not to get the shot himself, citing prior infection.
The Independent, Shellenberger says he’s been triple vaccinated, but also opposes vaccine mandates, especially for children.
"We don’t need that for COVID, we don’t need that for young kids," said Shellenberger. "We don’t need mask mandates; we’ve gotten rid of them in airplanes. People are ready to move on."
The Bay Area environmentalist and author says he’s focused on taking on the state’s homelessness and drug crises. He’s offering a statewide psychiatric and addiction care system called "Cal-Psych."
The plans calls for enforcement of a camping ban.
"They would be there with a police officer, to say look we can get you into rehab right now, in some other place outside this area, or you can go with Officer Smith to jail, those are your choices," Shellenberger explains.
Shellenberger wants to see a "shelter first, housing earned" system, which he says means people addicted to drugs, would earn subsidized housing through recovery programs. The plan would certainly face challenges from advocates.
Shellenberger is also pro-nuclear power and considered it a win when Newsom said he was open to delaying the closure of Diablo Canyon, the state’s last nuclear power plant.
"I’m really passionate about nuclear, the momentum is behind us, one of those things that when you tell the truth, the public eventually comes around," said Shellenberger.
In this race, Newsom remains confident.
One of his political advisors, Dan Newman said in a statement to KTVU, "Californians have been clear and consistent — repeatedly and overwhelmingly supporting the governor’s leadership during an unprecedented series of crises. So he’ll stay focused — and take nothing for granted, regardless of how many Trump sycophants run against him."
There are nearly twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans in the state and so far Newsom’s campaign has raised more money than his opponents by millions of dollars. It’ll be up to voters to decide which two candidates will move on from the June primary.