By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Multi-millionaire San Diego developer John Cox, 66, is one of the Republican frontrunners in the race to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom.

He made headlines for getting subpoenaed at the opening of a debate this week for allegedly not paying an advertising firm and campaigning with a live bear at one point.

Cox took on Newsom in the 2018 gubernatorial election and lost by more than 20 points, saying this time it’s different and that he has what it takes to win.

“I came out of nowhere. Everybody expected two Democrats in the election in 2018. So the fact that I even made the top two was
a shocker to a lot of people,” Cox said.

Now, Cox is trying to reintroduce himself and seize on what he sees as the governor’s weaknesses.

“If you look at the conditions on the ground for most people in this state right now — housing crisis, homelessness crisis. We don’t have enough water. We don’t have enough electricity. We have fires burning all around the state. We’ve got our kids probably having to wear masks in school — if we even get to school,” Cox said.

Cox also said he does not support coronavirus vaccine or mask mandates but urges people to get the shot.

“A large part of this is the lack of trust that people have in government and leadership and Gavin Newsom is Exhibit A in why people don’t trust government by the way,” Cox said.

At a GOP debate earlier this month, Cox also encouraged certain people not to get the vaccine

“There’s a lot of people that have had COVID and have antibodies and shouldn’t get the vaccine…” he said at the time.

Governor Newsom took aim at that statement, calling it dangerous for the state and its voters.

“Listen to those guys, it’s a COVID cliff. They want to set us back, not move us forward… I hope people pay real attention to what happens on September 14th,” Newsom said in response.

During the campaign, Cox caused speculation after his use of a bear during a campaign stop.

“The advertising agency I had said, well you know we need something to wake people up. Something to show the
human part with me. I don’t know if you saw the ad, I kissed the bear. It’s a 1,000-pound bear… it showed I had guts I guess,” Cox said to CBS Los Angeles.

Four of the other top Republicans who want to replace Newsom are Larry Elder, Kevin Faulconer, Kevin Kiley and Doug Ose. There are 46 total candidates on the ballot. A full list of their names can be found here.

The recall election is set for Sept. 14.