YouTube star Kevin Paffrath is Democratic chief in California recall

Kevin Paffrath, Kevin Paffrath smiles for a selfie in front of the California State Capitol in Sacramento on Friday, July 16, 2021.

Kevin Paffrath on AP

Last year at that time, Kevin Paffrath focused on his YouTube channel, where his more than half a million followers could hear comments on real estate, stocks, and stimulus checks every day. It has grossed him nearly $ 10 million in the past 12 months.

Now, 29-year-old former real estate agent is following Governor Gavin Newsom through his home state. It’s the best way he can think of to raise awareness of his unlikely efforts to replace Newsom in the upcoming September 14 recall election.

Paffrath is a registered Democrat and self-proclaimed centrist who voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. While he is very critical of Newsom and says he was a “failed leader”, Paffrath is equally concerned that the Democratic Party has no contingency plan.

Should more than half of California’s voters support dismissal on their ballot papers, the next governor would be the 46 successor candidate with the most votes, making it much easier for an outsider to win. Paffrath is one of nine candidates listed as a Democrat, but party leaders are pushing for a “no” to recall, saying voters should skip the second question of who should become governor if recall succeeds.

“It was overwhelming for us that they didn’t at least put someone in, so in the worst case scenario they had an Aile Maria,” Paffrath said in an interview over coffee on Friday after attending a Newsom press event in San Francisco.

In a survey by Survey USA in early August, Paffrath had the most votes in the field of replacement with 27%. The next six candidates are all Republicans, including conservative talk show host Larry Elder and reality TV star and former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner.

“We think that in the last two weeks of this campaign, as the recall becomes more likely, the Democrats will be forced to select a replacement candidate for Hail Mary,” said Paffrath. “Since we are number 1 in the polls, we hope we are.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to the media at a longtime warehouse on Highway 80 in Berkeley, Calif., August 9, 2021.

John G. Mabanglo | Swimming pool | Reuters

Democrats are right to be nervous.

A poll by the University of California, Berkeley, and the Los Angeles Times in late July found that 51% of registered voters oppose the recall, 36% for it. But among the likely voters, the gap that favored Newsom’s retention narrowed to three percentage points.

The anti-recall movement has raised around $ 51 million, nearly eight times the amount of the site trying to oust Newsom. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has given $ 3 million to support the governor.

Donors can donate an unlimited amount for or against the recall, up to a maximum of US $ 32,400 to support a specific replacement candidate. Paffrath said he raised nearly $ 400,000 and invested about $ 200,000 of his own money. The average donation is $ 70, he said.

“We don’t have the war chest like Newsom, so we have to do everything in our power with grassroots and social media,” said Paffrath.

For example, Paffrath paid his brother-in-law, an app developer, to develop his “Meet Kevin” app. And he tries to appear in front of the media as much as possible. Most of its advertising spend is done via text messaging to let voters know that there is a democratic alternative.

On Friday, Paffrath was hanging out in front of Manny’s San Francisco restaurant when Newsom was talking to the press inside. In a dark blue suit with a purple tie, Paffrath was easy to spot for reporters. He said he was careful not to disrupt the events.

“We have to fight this ‘Oh yes, he’s a YouTuber, he’s a prankster’,” said Paffrath. “We stand there very respectfully and reporters recognize us. They talk to us.”

From San Francisco, he follows Newsom to Los Angeles and San Diego and possibly beyond.

How it started

Recall efforts picked up pace during the pandemic as frustration with government closings of schools and small businesses and the slow pace of reopening increased, even as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations plummeted.

Newsom critics took the opportunity to highlight the worsening homelessness problem and rising crime rate, while taxes and the cost of living were among the highest in the country. Paffrath said he wasn’t an initial proponent of the recall and didn’t interfere until it was in full swing.

“The reason I think people get frustrated is because we pay our taxes and then see what our government does for us with the services we pay for,” he said. “And we see people dying on the street. We see rot.

Paffrath, who lives in Ventura, about 70 miles from Los Angeles with his wife and two young sons, has made homelessness a top priority. His proposal is to build new emergency facilities and rent commercial and office buildings, including many vacated during the pandemic, to create mass rooms with cots and small rooms supported by National Guard personnel.

His goal is to get all 160,000 homeless people off the streets in California in 60 days, which will ultimately cost $ 10 per person per day, which covers food, medical care, and toilets.

Paffrath also has ambitious – some like fancy – goals for new types of “future” schools, a system of underground tunnels to alleviate traffic problems, and the construction of Las Vegas-style casinos as part of a plan to fully legalize gambling.

He also recognizes the existential threat posed by fires and droughts. He advocates spending on controlled burns and a pipeline from the Mississippi River to double the flow of water to the Colorado River. When it comes to solar systems, he wants to incentivize companies to stay in California instead of going elsewhere.

“I’m tired of hearing that Tesla is building solar panels in New York and Nevada,” he said. “They should be in California.”

$ 10 million on YouTube

Paffrath’s fans are used to hearing his opinion on such things. He now has almost 150,000 Twitter followers and 1.7 million on YouTube. Regular topics are interest rates, the crypto-economy and politics.

Paffrath started real estate a little over a decade ago by teaching people how to invest in the market. He became a real estate agent and started buying real estate, then bringing his teaching experience and market knowledge to YouTube. In 2018, he was making enough money – a few thousand dollars a day – to let his broker license expire and get out of sales.

On Friday, he took out his cell phone at the coffee shop and navigated to his YouTube earnings dashboard. Last year the site reported its advertising revenue on the site exceeded $ 3.5 million. Affiliate revenue and money he makes from wealth-building courses raised about an additional $ 6 million, he said.

Kevin Paffrath during the election campaign

Ari Levy | CNBC

But his focus now is on politics. Paffrath said he would run for 2022 even if the recall is unsuccessful or another replacement candidate wins. That’s as far out as he projects.

“I don’t want to become a professional politician,” he said. “I want to fix California.”

He also wants to reassure the Democrats that he’s not just using their party label because it gives him the best chance of winning. With a three-quarters democratic legislative period, it is important to start with things that are important to the majority, such as the homeless problem.

Control of the US Senate could also be at stake. Dianne Feinstein, the state’s highest senator, is the oldest member of the chamber at 88. She is not up for re-election until 2024, and questions are circulating as to whether she will retire by then.

If so, the governor would choose her temporary successor. The Senate is currently in a 50-50 split, with Vice President Kamala Harris being able to cast decisive votes if necessary.

Paffrath made it clear that he would choose a Democrat.

“I’m not going to burn the party,” he said. “I don’t want people to think that just because I’m a recall candidate, I’ll go in there and do what the Republicans say they want, start cutting things and throwing the furniture around. It’s not going to work. ” . You have to respect the legislature. “

WATCH: California Governor Newsom is about to be recalled

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