Realtor and self-described financial educator Kevin Paffrath is the shiny, new addition to the recall election. But many who didn’t see last night’s debate or see recent polls (here and here) that placed him in the top two among replacement candidates should Gov. Gavin Newsom lose the recall vote might wonder who Paffrath is. He is a 29-year-old centrist Democrat who voted for both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, but who also throws friendly shout outs to far-right figures like Ben Shapiro and Epoch Times.
He also wants Democrats to vote “yes” on recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom and give himself a one-year trial in the governor’s cockpit. With less than three weeks of voting left, here is a bit more from the voluble Ventura resident. For more info, visit MeetKevin.com.
SactoPolitico: First, for the Aug. 19 debate, you offered Nexstar Media, who organized that debate, to donate $50,000 to the charity of their choice to let you into that debate. They turned you down, but I reviewed their candidate criteria. You appeared to meet their every requirement for automatic inclusion. Did they ever explain what you were missing?
Kevin Paffrath: We really don’t understand why they didn’t include us. We think it was a crime. We think maybe they wanted only Republicans and catered the narrative to Newsom. The reality is Californians should hear from top-polling candidates. If the polls shift, the candidates in the debates should shift. In fact, [candidates] should be mandated to participate in the debates, unlike someone like Larry Elder who passes on debating because he doesn’t feel like debating. It’s childish. It was ridiculous.
S/P: For those unfamiliar with you, please share your elevator-speech introduction.
Paffrath: I am running for governor because I am devastated at the thought of my 3- and 5-year-old in 20 years asking me, “Dad, why did you raise us in this state? The state is bankrupt, and everybody who wanted to be successful or to just stay afloat has move to Texas or Florida. Why are we here in California?” That fear, that nightmare scenario, is why I am running. We have to get California back on track.
Unfortunately right now what we have is a governor who doesn’t seem to care. He wants to spend $3,000 a month to house people in motels for our homeless crisis. I don’t even spend $3,000 per month on the house I live in. So we got to have real action to solve our problems, starting with homelessness as step one.
Once we solve our homeless crisis, we’re going to move onto the causes of homelessness, like crime, housing and schooling. Then at the same time we solve these issues, we can actually have a governor who delivers the change we need on proper immigration, wildfire prevention, and water. So that is what I stand for.
S/P: I understand you have a 60-day plan on homelessness. What are some of the highlights of that plan?
Paffrath: After we win, we will have a five-week transition period. In that five-week transition period, we’ll get all of our planning and preparing done, so that way on Day One we can have emergency executive action that authorizes the building of 80 emergency facilities throughout the state. In these facilities, which will be optional facilities in our communities for homeless folks to go to, they will offer free beds, free storage, free clothing, free opportunities for drug and mental health support, and we’re going to do everything we can to reintegrate the homeless population into society again.
After 60 days, we will not allow anyone to sleep on our streets any more. It is already a crime to sleep on the street, and we will actually enforce that after 60 days.
S/P: You are a first-time candidate, but do you have any other related experience in government or politics that voters should know about?
Paffrath: First, voters should be aware that I have spent 3,000 hours on the road with law enforcement dealing with domestic violence, crime, traffic stops. I understand that crime is a massive issue that we have in our state, especially with Prop 57 and 47. We got to make sure we deal with our crime crisis, and I have the experience working with law enforcement. So I know what we need.
Then, I graduated with a background in political science and economics from UCLA. We need to bring scale to government. So that way we can invest as inexpensively as possible for the largest possible return. We’ve got a governor who doesn’t understand that, a governor who doesn’t seem to understand that people leaving our state is a crisis. Over 2.8 million people and businesses left over the last 10 years. The governor brushes this off, even though we lost a seat in Congress.
But what we need to do when we look at the underbelly of this issue is we see we have children being born, people coming here for college and we have undocumented folks coming to California. Those are takes from the economy, but the people who are contributing to the economy are leaving.
S/P: One follow-up on those 3,000 hours you volunteered with law enforcement: what was the manner of that work? What were you doing?
Paffrath: I was sitting in a cop car, driving around, helping out. It was either we do traffic control, talk to people in domestic violence situations, fill out police reports, traffic tickets, arrests, bookings.
S/P: Were you deputized as an assistant police officer? How does a layman participate in something like that? And where did you do that?
Paffrath: I don’t know all of the rules and regulations for policing, but anyone can volunteer for the police department. This was actually in South Florida, but I did a little out here as well. However, once I started going to college and focusing on my business, I stopped volunteering.
S/P: What do you say to Democrats who see your candidacy and website, but also see your shout-outs to Ben Shapiro and Epoch Times on your social media channels. After all, Epoch Times has been involved in spreading QAnon conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine misinformation. How do you explain that to them?
Paffrath: Here’s the thing. Just because a video shows somebody [like Shapiro] complaining about homelessness – which is a fact. It’s a fact. Ben Shapiro is a perfect example of someone who left California because of homelessness and now is in Tennessee making fun of California. The reality is what he is saying about homelessness is right. It’s a disaster. We have a governor who squandered his duty to prevent people from dying and actually help people.
So I don’t care who the quotes are from. It doesn’t matter. The fact is we have to focus on the problems. We’ve got to focus on the big problems we have and solutions. And we have a full plan with all of our solutions on our website, and we believe our solutions are the big solutions that we need.
Some say, “You don’t have political experience,” but look, the definition of “insanity” is doing the the same thing and expecting different results. The last thing we need is another politician with California political experience.
S/P: I haven’t seen too many completed candidate questionnaires for you online. So here are a few basic topics and issues. Do you support QAnon?
S/P: Have you been vaccinated for Covid-19, and what is your advice to unvaccinated Californians?
Paffrath: Yes, and I encourage people to get vaccinated. I don’t believe the governor should have mandates from the top. I think local businesses and communities should each decide on vaccine mandates. I think the vaccines are something that should be taken, and I would be for incentivizing people – giving them $250 each – to get vaccinated if they are an adult.
S/P: What is your position on a woman’s right to choose?
Paffrath: I am a fan of what Californians have led the law to be right now. So what the law is right now, I am okay with. It is not a priority for me to make any changes. I know there are a lot of issues on both sides, but my priority – and virtually my only priority – is dealing with homelessness, which is something most Californians can agree on too. Then next is the other parts of our 20-part plan, which includes making sure we have enough housing, dealing with the crime we have, and dealing with our schools, water and wildfires.
S/P: Do you support Obamacare or would you have preferred it repealed and replaced?
Paffrath: Medical issues are so difficult. Originally when the Affordable Care Act came up, I thought it was very ambitious, and I thought there were a lot of great things to it. So I support no lifetime caps and not discriminating against pre-existing conditions, but we’ve seen the implementation of Obamacare has been problematic. So there is a lot of work, but I am for commonsense solutions to make sure if something is broken we will fix it. I don’t think it makes sense to just undo everything and try to replace the whole thing. I don’t think it will get done. The power is just not there.
S/P: Do you feel the last election was stolen from Donald Trump?
Paffrath: I don’t believe the last election was stolen. I do think there were a lot of inconsistencies, and I think all of those should be investigated. But I’ve also spent time looking into a lot of those election-fraud issues. For example, I live streamed a lot of the coverage of this election fraud, such as Trump’s phone call with Georgia [Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger], and they were explaining that the concerns Trump had were unfounded. And I am inclined to believe those Georgia election officials who were talking to Trump about that.
But I think there are things that can be done a whole lot better. There are issues we have now that there are holes in ballots and issues with signature verification. So I see the arguments on both sides, and it is worth looking into more to make sure our elections are as free and fair as possible.
S/P: What about California’s voting system? The state is again using mail-in voting and the Dominion voting system for the recall election. From the fall, nine state GOP-endorsed Congressional candidates are suing that they were defrauded in last year general election. Do you trust California’s system for the recall election?
Paffrath: I don’t necessarily have any particular concerns with Dominion voting machines. If anything, I’m more curious about our signature verification process. For example, to make the math easy, for every 100 signatures we collected, it seemed only 60 were actually able to get verified even though we were getting them in person. I think there is definitely some work to figure out if everyone’s vote who deserves to vote actually is actually getting counted. So those are the things I would look into more than the voting machines. But I am always concerned. There are a lot of crazy shenanigans that have already come up, and we are seeing all sorts of nasty attacks.
S/P: What sort of attacks?
Paffrath: People trying to sabotage us. For example, we did a mass texting campaign with 6,000 volunteers. We sent so many text messages that now attorneys are claiming there is no way we could have sent that many text messages. With 6,000 volunteers? Sure there is, and people sent us pictures and videos of them texting for our campaign.
Twitter won’t verify me. They just say we are just not going to verify anyone in the recall election. Why? How much money is going to Newsom’s campaign from Big Tech? The answer is a lot.
I posted my announcement story about running for office against Gov. Newsom, but my Instagram story was deleted by Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram. Facebook donated $30 million to Newsom. There are a lot things that are wrong. CNN, we just sent a cease-and-desist letter to CNN. They literally said, “There is no Democrat challenging the existing governor.” They said that yesterday, and I said, you’ve got to be kidding me.
S/P: Where were you when you heard about the Jan. 6 insurrection in D.C., and what were your thoughts about the state of our democracy?
Paffrath: You can watch it. I live streamed the entire thing. I spent over 10 hours on Youtube live streaming the news coverage and live reacting to the entire day. Just type in Meet Kevin Capitol Riot, and it pulls up with over a million views.
When it happened I think all Americans were united in fear and concern over this this breach unto something so symbolic. Since then, obviously it has become a lot more politicized, but the reaction I had was what I felt.
S/P: You describe yourself as a financial educator. What do you believe is the number one financial issue facing California, and what is your proposed solution?
Paffrath: The high speed rail has gotta go. It is a $100 billion project. If we could get rid of that, we could forgive everyone’s income taxes making under $250,000 for three years. That shows how expensive the project is. It has a 71 years break even, which means California doesn’t make a return on the project for 71 years. That is insane and nuts. That is the number one top priority that needs to go so we can take that money and invest in financial education in our schools.
S/P: Devil’s advocate question. You are very active on social media. What do you say to those who say your run for office is largely about raising your profile for your online ventures?
Paffrath: What people can do is if you go to SocialBlade.com and see that [views of his sites] have plummeted since I announced my candidacy in May. That’s because I went from someone entirely nonpartisan to entering the cancerous world of politics to try to serve the state. And now I have picked a side, and so the 50% of the people who are Republicans, some of them say, “I can’t believe it. You’re are a Democrat. I would never vote for a Democrat or support a Democrat. I’m not watching anymore.” So it’s been bad.
S/P: For people who aren’t familiar with what it takes to run for office at any level, what’s been the most interesting learnings you’ve had?
Paffrath: Things are a lot more broken when you actually start looking at the system. The more I look at the system, the more I see, “Wait a minute. Why did Gavin Newsom promise he was going to do fire prevention, but then NPR had to come out and expose him for overstating [the number of acres treated for] fire prevention by 690%?” So it is very important that we are very clear about what we promise, especially as wildfires are so disastrous.
But then I find out that leaked emails came out today that CalFire tried to save Newsom by removing his original promise from the California state websites. So they tried to cover it up. I have seen things like this now time and time and time again. If you want to know what’s going on in politics, follow the money. Google all of a sudden donates $7 million to Gavin Newsom. What happens? A few days later, they get a no-bid contract worth tens of millions of dollars. A Netflix co-CEO donates $3 million to Gavin Newsom, and surprise, surprise. Netflix had emergency exemptions from Covid restrictions and lockdowns that bankrupted one-third of our restaurants in California.
People want to see transparency in government. I’m not bought by anyone. I don’t have political baggage. I just want to help fix the disaster we are in.
S/P: Anything in wrap up that we haven’t covered that would be useful to share?
Paffrath: The last thing would be a vote for a Republican [in the recall] in my opinion is a complete waste of a vote and gambles with the lives of Californians. Because a vote for a Republican is basically handing a Republican the biggest supermajority of Democrats we’ve ever had in the legislature. We are at almost 75% Democratic control of the legislature, way more than the 67% needed to make sure a Republican governor can literally do nothing. This is why it’s important that Californians get rid of Gavin Newsom but replace a strong leader with a strong Democratic plan.