The Issue Is: Gubernatorial Candidate Kevin Kiley, Hugh Hewitt, and Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks

A busy week in California politics. The certified list of candidates, and a debate to be co-hosted by FOX 11, were announced for the upcoming recall election. This, as a new surge in COVID cases led to reinstatement of some masking mandates, and the fear of more shutdowns.

To break those stories, and more, down, Elex Michaelson is joined on "The Issue Is," by State Assemblyman, and Gubernatorial candidate, Kevin Kiley (R), syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt, and State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D).



BACKGROUND: California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R) has long been a fierce critic of Governor Gavin Newsom. The lawmaker from California’s 6th District even released a book earlier this year called Recall Newsom. Now, Kiley is seeking to unseat the current Governor in September’s recall election.

KILEY'S CENTRAL TAKE: "He's abused the public trust. This Governor took extraordinary emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic and used them for personal political gain, and to reward the special interests that put him in office... We still have only recovered half of our jobs that were lost during the pandemic, and we're having one of the weakest economic recoveries in the country. But actually, California's COVID-era outcomes have been, I would argue, the worst of any state. To take just one counterpoint, if California, on a sort of population-adjusted basis, had the same outcomes as Florida did, millions more kids would have been in school, hundreds of thousands more people would be employed, and thousands more people would be alive…"

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BACKGROUND: According to data collected in early 2020, California is home to more than 160,000 homeless residents. That number is expected to have only risen in the midst of the pandemic. As Governor Newsom sets aside an additional $12 billion in his recent "California Comeback" plan to combat the problem, how would a Governor Kevin Kiley address the crisis?

KILEY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Homelessness is an absolute tragedy and we have, what, a thousand-plus people die on the streets here in L.A. every year. The unsheltered, homeless population in California right now is nine times larger than the next closest state, and despite all of this, we keep throwing billions and billions more at the problem every year. The Governor's own mental health czar in March said that this is not a money problem, it's a leadership problem. So we need new leadership. And in brief, what that means is you need to have a roof over the head of folks, you need to have a place for them to go, we cannot have people living and dying and languishing on the streets. And once they're there, once they're sheltered, we need to connect them with the sort of services with which they can turn their lives around, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, job training and so forth…"



BACKGROUND: This week, the California Secretary of State’s office released the final, certified list of candidates who will appear on the September Gubernatorial recall ballot. Also this week, FOX 11 and the Nixon Library announced plans to host five of those candidates in a live, televised debate on August 4. Elex Michaelson, Christine Devine, Hugh Hewitt, and Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien will moderate, as leading GOP candidates Larry Elder, John Cox, Kevin Faulconer, Kevin Kiley, and Doug Ose face off. Invitations were also extended to Caitlyn Jenner and Governor Newsom.

HEWITT'S CENTRAL TAKE: "I don't really think you can poll this, and I've told all my Beltway buddies that if they think Governor Newsom has this locked up, they're absolutely wrong, because you and I both know it's all about a turnout model that no one can predict... Larry Elder could be ahead by 30 points. He might be behind by 10. Governor Newsom could be upside down, or right side up... I think the debate that we will be hosting on the 4th is going to have a dramatic effect on people's impressions, especially for those who present well on the key issues…"



BACKGROUND: This week, as the Delta variant persisted as the dominant coronavirus variant, case numbers in California, and across the country, surged to their highest rates since the pandemic’s peak in this winter. As cases spike, vaccine rates have lagged, with about 52% of Californians fully vaccinated, and less than 50% of all Americans. As the potential for another wave increases, State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks has thrown her support behind businesses who decide they may want to mandate the vaccines for patrons and employees.

WICKS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "Look at what's happening right now, the Delta variant is increasing. Right now, in many counties across California, if we had the tier system, we'd be in the purple tier, which means the schools would be closed, businesses would be shut down. I don't want to go back to that. I don't think anyone else wants to as well. And if you look at the rates of hospitalization, it is almost 100% from unvaccinated folks... So I think we need to have a real, hard conversation about mandating vaccines. You know our vaccination rates are leveling out, and we have to tackle this, and I think we have to tackle it quickly... I think we need a cultural shift where our employers and our businesses are mandating that people get vaccinated…"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to