There is a lot to recommend Kevin Paffrath for governor of California. Along with several Republicans, including Kiley, Cox, Elder and Faulconer, Paffrath is going to get a lot of votes. Not only is his presence on the ballot likely to increase the probability that Newsom is voted out of office on the Recall ballot’s question one, but because there are four viable Republican candidates, and only one viable Democratic candidate, Paffrath could very well end up becoming California’s next governor.
Paffrath would be a vast improvement over the governor we’ve got. If he ends up getting elected, it could represent a political realignment in California as significant as a victory by a GOP candidate. Paffrath has a lot to offer. He has Kiley’s brains, Cox’s business acumen, Elder’s charisma and communication skills, and if anything, his politics are to the right of Faulconer.
And unlike some of the many other candidates in the Recall, Paffrath’s candidacy is no joke. In the most recent poll, he leads the top GOP challenger, Larry Elder, 27 percent to 23 percent.
Consider Paffrath’s plan for the homeless (all of this can be found on his campaign website). He intends to use the national guard to construct centralized shelters, which will enable the national guard in conjunction with law enforcement to immediately remove the homeless from California’s streets and parks. Compare this to Newsom’s plan to double down on the corrupt practice of constructing homeless housing at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars per unit, spreading them throughout suburban communities, with minimal behavioral conditions on placement.
Paffrath advocates restricting immigration to people who can support themselves without government assistance.
On water policy, he advocates more reservoirs, desalination, and even proposes building an aqueduct from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River and sharing the water with other states! If you like water, you have to like this guy. As he puts it, “We can create new jobs and solve problems instead of focusing on buying votes.”
Paffrath recognizes that it is impossible to transition to green energy immediately. He recognizes it is necessary to increase the efficiency of natural gas power plants and keep them open.
For almost every issue, Paffrath sounds good. He has evaluated the forest fire epidemic and correctly identified the difficulty of getting approval for controlled burns as one of the primary causes of California’s overgrown, tinder dry forests. And then he goes one step further, observing that the cost of controlled burns is $32 per acre, whereas it costs $1,500 per acre to fight a wildfire.
On education, Paffrath advocates “Future schools,” a model where partnerships would be formed with businesses to offer students a practical education including vocational training. He suggests these alternative schools can also accommodate homeless people and help rehabilitate prisoners.
When it comes to high speed rail, Paffrath claims that his financial appraisal of the system reveals it won’t break even for at least 70 years. That’s probably still optimistic. As a financial expert, Paffrath is able to make accurate and revealing comparisons. The $100 billion price tag on the bullet train, probably an underestimate, is equivalent to three years worth of state income tax revenues for all income under $250,000 per year. As he puts it, “what would you rather have, a choo choo train for $100 billion, or no income tax on the first $250,000 dollars of income for three years?”
Returning to the theme of common sense over and over again, Paffrath asks, “even if we were to spend money on infrastructure to reduce our traffic problems, why don’t we spend the money where we actually have traffic? The high speed rail is estimated to cost $125 million per mile. Underground tunnels cost about $10 million per mile.” While Paffrath’s figures should be fact checked, again, he’s got the right idea. He goes on to suggest we construct tunnel systems under our major urban freeways, partially paid for with public funds and partially through user tolls. Individual drivers could pay to get places faster, and public busses could also cross the cities unimpeded by surface congestion.
As a real estate investor, Paffrath, like John Cox, correctly diagnoses the problem: He’s identified 482 separate regulations affecting home construction. His solutions are politically eclectic. On one hand he wants to deregulate to encourage more construction, including energy producing homes co-located near wind farms and solar farms (personally I’ll skip the home by the turbines), yet on the other hand he recognizes the importance of protecting existing local communities from having high density housing forced upon them. Worth asking: Kevin Paffrath, are you going to be ok when your real estate holdings drop in value, because you’ve solved California’s housing shortage and homes are finally affordable again? Deleveraging might be in order, if you’re serious?!
Paffrath acknowledges that California’s problems are interrelated and complex, and claims he has done the research and has the ability to connect the dots and solve them. Maybe not every one of Paffrath’s ideas will survive the light of day. Maybe if he’s elected he’ll encounter a solid wall of opposition from his own party. But somehow I get the impression this man will not back down, and has the potential to gather populist support behind his ideas.
One thing is certain. Kevin Paffrath even on a bad day would be a better governor than Gavin Newsom ever was. If I was a Democrat, I’d vote for him without hesitation. He combines nonpartisan centrist positions on the issues with what is probably the most thoughtful and comprehensive policy agenda of any candidate.
This article originally appeared on the website of the California Globe.
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Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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